Dell's New IoT Division Plans to Service the 'Internet of Data'

Dell's new IoT Gateway is a small, wireless device that collects, helps secure and processes sensor data at the edge of a network. 

Dell, which knows a trend when it sees one and is able to act on them a lot quicker now that it's a privately held company, has started a new division to develop and market Internet of things-type products and services.

That's not all. The company has already come out with its first IoT product: an inexpensive gateway appliance that onramps IT systems to the cloud and filters data. And we do mean inexpensive—pricing for the Dell IoT Gateway starts at $479, but it can be augmented with additional enterprise functionality for $200 to $300 more.

Still, we're talking chicken feed because IT managers are accustomed to spending much more than that on a key piece of data center hardware. But this is what will get Dell in the doors of IT decision-makers.

Gateways Growing in Importance

Gateways are small, wireless or connected devices that collect, help secure and process sensor data at the edge of a network. They provide users with the capability to perform analytics separately from a central data center, which reduces latency for data-based decision-making. This also reduces the time and cost associated with transferring data to the cloud or data center.

The IoT Gateway, which looks exactly like a desktop router, is a repurposed Wyse 3000 Series thin-client terminal, the IP of which has been owned by Dell for a few years. It runs on a low-power 1.6GHz Intel Celeron processor and has a mere 4GB of RAM. It features all the functions of a decent laptop: WiFi, Ethernet, three USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity. It weighs only about 5 pounds.

"You think that the IoT was invented yesterday by marketeers, but it's been around a long while, and we've been talking to a lot of customers about it. When you think about it, it's really the Internet of data," Dell's Andy Rhodes, the newly anointed executive director of the new IoT division, told eWEEK.

"The sensors and devices are there just to create data, and then the data has to go somewhere to be aggregated and analyzed. That's not a new concept. The new things are that it's all becoming more affordable, the devices are becoming smaller and more power-efficient, you can put them in more places, and sensors are getting cheaper and cheaper. Cost of compute and storage is going down. Everything's cheaper, so it's all selling."

No Operating System on Board

The Dell IoT Gateway doesn't come with an operating system so that IT shops can install their own. It will work with basically any system, including Ubuntu Linux, Wind River Linux, Red Hat Linux, Windows IoT and others.

A gateway is an editor of sorts for streams of data, Rhodes said, because it filters out repetitive data bytes as they come into the data store. Analysis engines, such as Hadoop and others, find query results much quicker with lean, pristine data.

"Ninety-five percent of IoT data is useless," Rhodes said. "It's the incremental additions or charges in data, or the connections between data bytes, that is valuable to the enterprise. Gateways like this one do analytics at the edge and then only relay the important data to the analyzer, saving time, money and bandwidth."

Other characteristics of the Dell gateway, according to Rhodes, are:

  • It is small in size but powerful, featuring an Intel processor with two cores to drive a wide range of IoT applications, including building and industrial automation.
  • It mounts on walls, desks or other easily accessible areas of the building.
  • It has no moving parts, so it is built to last for years.

The Dell IoT Gateway is now available in the U.S. and Canada; additional countries will have availability soon. For more information about Dell IoT, go here.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...