Dell grabbed some headlines earlier this month when it joined Intel, Samsung and others in launching the Open Interconnect Consortium, the latest vendor-driven group aimed at creating an open standard for the burgeoning Internet of things.
Like the AllSeen Alliance, the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC)—which also includes Broadcom, Atmel and Intel subsidiary Wind River—wants to build an open framework that will serve as the foundation for the Internet of things and enable greater interoperability between the hundreds of billions of connected devices and systems that will make up the IoT.
“The explosion of the Internet of things is a transformation that will have a major impact on our power to do more through technology,” Glen Robson, vice president and CTO for client solutions at Dell, said in a statement when the OIC was announced. “Having a connectivity framework that is open, secure and manageable is critical to delivering the foundational elements of that transformation. Consumers and businesses alike will need a strong base upon which to build the vast array of solutions enabled by a global Internet of things.”
Robson said that “from our earliest days, Dell has embraced industry standards as a means to bring the best technology solutions to our customers, and the Open Interconnect Consortium is very much aligned with this model.”
The Internet of things promises to be very big, and most tech vendors are building out their capabilities and partnerships to grow their roles in it. The growth in the number of open standards groups like AllSeen and the OIC shows the importance many are putting on interoperability, and some vendors, such as Intel and Cisco Systems, have created business units dedicated to the IoT. This makes sense, given the potential market the IoT represents. IDC analysts have said there will be as many as 212 connected “things” by 2020, and that revenues could reach as much as $7.1 trillion.
Those billions of things—from tablets, notebooks and smartphones to cars, home appliances, surveillance cameras, traffic lights and industrial systems—will be connected to the Internet and each other, communicating and trading data back and forth. It will bring greater efficiencies to businesses and impact how people work and live, according to analysts.
Dell is moving forward with an approach to IoT which is both pragmatic and strategic, according to Joyce Mullen, vice president and general manager of Dell’s OEM Solutions group. Dell, which went private last year and over the past several years has spent billions of dollars to buy companies to build up its enterprise IT solutions capabilities—from storage and networking to security and software—has a wide range of assets that businesses can deploy to prepare them for the Internet of things. The company also has the expertise to advise organizations about reaching their goals, and the partnerships to ensure these businesses have everything they need, Mullen told eWEEK.
“The way we’re approaching it right now is we’re using services to stitch all of this together,” she said.
Dell Taking Pragmatic, Strategic Approaches to IoT
Looking forward, company officials also are seeing how the company can evolve its offerings over time to meet the needs that businesses will have as the IoT continues to grow, she said. Mullen pointed to the idea of creating reference architectures for such scenarios as smart buildings, where the vendor can “set up [the architecture] once and use it over time.”
“There’s a lot of interest [in the Internet of things],” she said. “There’s a lot of expectations. This is unmapped territory.”
Liam Quinn, a Dell Fellow and director and CTO of Dell’s OEM Solutions unit, said getting to the point where an organization can fully participate in the IoT and benefit from it “is a journey,” one that is just getting underway. Along with building the technologies that vendors can offer businesses, there also is a lot of education that needs to be done—getting organizations comfortable with what the IoT is, what it will be, how they can benefit from it and what steps need to be taken, Quinn told eWEEK.
Right now, most of what’s going on revolves more around intranets of things—the connecting of devices within organizations—rather than an Internet of things, where these billions of devices from multiple businesses are all connected and communicating, he said. There is much to be done around security and standards before the full benefits of IoT can be recognized, he said. Standards groups like the OIC and AllSeen take time to get specifications released and used in a widespread fashion, Quinn said.
Dell has been active in a wide range of standards groups with the idea of driving open architectures that prevent vendor lock-in, he said, with the OIC being the latest example.
At the same time, Dell is in an enviable position of having a large installed base of businesses already using the vendor’s products and solutions, and relying on Dell’s services, Mullen said. And the company is working to make those products fit in with the Internet of things. For example, Dell in May released Kace K1000 version 6.0, the latest iteration of its system management appliance that is designed to give businesses better visibility into the devices, systems and other endpoints—from printers and storage systems to networking switches and firewalls—that are connected to their networks.
“The ability to envision all the devices connected to the corporate network is tied closely to overall IT wellbeing and security,” Bill Odell, vice president of marketing for system management software at Dell, wrote in a post on the company blog when the new Kace offering was released. “With insufficient visibility, companies are exposed to undue security risks and vulnerabilities, all of which will grow exponentially as we enter the era of the ‘Internet of things.'”