Dell Turns to Partners to Expand IoT Efforts

Officials say the vendor is combining its broad IoT portfolio with expertise from more than two dozen software makers, including Microsoft and SAP.

IoT partnerships

Dell last year launched its Internet of things (IoT) business unit and rolled out its first gateway device that is designed to gather, aggregate and analyze the massive amounts of data the billions of connected, intelligent things will generate. Earlier this year, the company unveiled new embedded PCs that will further fuel its IoT ambitions.

Now the company is looking to bring partners into the mix as it looks to expand its reach into a market that is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years. Cisco Systems officials expect the number of connected devices and systems worldwide to hit more than 50 billion by 2020—up from about 25 billion in 2014—and IDC analysts have said that global spending on the IoT will grow from $698.6 billion last year to almost $1.3 trillion in 2019.

At an event in New York City earlier this month, Jason Shepherd, director of IoT strategies and partnerships at Dell, talked about the importance of partnerships going forward. Dell brings a lot of assets to the table, from the gateways and embedded PCs to a broad range of data center and cloud infrastructure offerings, its Boomi and Statistica data integration and analytics software, and security and management solutions. However, partnering with other vendors makes sense when talking about something as broad and far-reaching at the IoT, Shepherd said.

Dell can't do everything, and partnerships can accelerate the vendor's capabilities in such areas as industrial and building automation and transportation.

With that in mind, the vendor has now launched its IoT Solutions Partner Program, which is designed to bring together an array of independent software vendors (ISVs) with Dell's own IoT portfolio of products to give customers the tools they need to find their way in what Dell officials call a highly fragmented IoT market.

"Dell believes that opportunities increase when you help others win," Andy Rhodes, executive director, commercial IoT solutions at Dell, said in a statement. "We are passionate about collaborating with this strong group of companies and believe ISVs are critical in building the bridge between the exciting industry potential of IoT and profitable market reality."

The program is launching with 25 partners, including such major players as Microsoft, SAP, GE and Software AG, as well as others like Blue Pillar and Kepware, a 21-year-old company based in Portland, Maine, that makes software for the industrial automation industry. Kepware earlier this year was bought by software-maker PTC.

Dell, Kepware and Software AG are working together to create IoT-enabled predictive maintenance models that use distributed analytics to address operational challenges like unplanned downtime and maintenance costs. In addition, Dell is working with Microsoft and Blue Pillar to develop automated demand response offers that will help utilities ensure that grids remain reliable, while Dell and SAP are partnering on technologies to help customers deal with such challenges as business continuity and equipment effectiveness.

Dell officials also noted that its Edge Gateway now supports Windows 10 and is Microsoft Azure Certified for IoT, and that the Edge Gateway 5100 model, which is designed for extended temperature ranges in industrial environments, is available. There also are five new accessories for the Edge Gateways, including I/O and power expansion modules, a ZigBee module, a CAN (controller area network) bus card, and a rugged enclosure.

The company also unveiled the Edge Device Manager, a cloud-based manageability offering that delivers centralize reporting and control of edge gateways from a single cloud-based console.