NEW YORK CITY—Executives with Dell Technologies are looking to leverage the full scope of the company’s wide-ranging product portfolio to push an aggressive strategy for the internet of things.
In a media event here Oct. 10, CEO Michael Dell and other officials unveiled a program that includes the creation of a new internet of things (IoT) division within the company as well as a plan to invest $1 billion over the next three years in developing new IoT products and services, investing in IoT technology companies, expanding its development labs and technology partner program with a complementary technology ecosystem.
The initiative involves not only taking advantage of the deep infrastructure capabilities developed over the past several decades by Dell and EMC, but also initiating new software development projects that touch on everything from data analytics and security to management.
It also is aimed at moving the IoT beyond its initial phase, which focused more on network connectivity, into the next era which will leverage emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and data analytics. The goal will be to rapidly move these technologies into hardware and software to efficiently derive useful information and enable IoT systems to more quickly act on that information.
The data generated by all these connected systems—and the ability to quickly analyze, parse, apply intelligence to and react the data—is what will be key to the IoT going forward, Dell told the industry analysts and journalists at the event.
“The potential of the internet of things and artificial intelligence is when they come together as one interdependent ecosystem from the edge to the core to the cloud,” he said
The IoT is expected to grow rapidly, with Dell officials noting a report from McKinsey and Co. that says that by 2020 there will be 30 billion connected devices worldwide—from wearables to self-driving cars to manufacturing systems, smart cities, industrial robots and hospital equipment. And that number is only projected to grow into the future.
The amount of data also will continue to skyrocket and Dell executives said businesses are looking for vendors that have the capabilities to help them find their way in an immature IoT environment that is complex and fragmented.
Company executives argued that Dell is the only vendor that has the broad product portfolio from its many companies—including VMware, RSA, Pivotal and Virtustream—as well as the development capabilities and extensive partnerships to create a comprehensive platform.
Dell already offerings a range of products and services for the IoT, including Edge Gateways to bring compute and analytics to the network edge and closer to the connected devices, which are secured and managed by VMware’s Pulse IoT Control Center.
Now the company is aiming at what officials are calling the IoT distributed core. The industry over the past 50 years has swung from centralized computer architectures based on mainframes to distributed client/server systems and now back to centralized compute resources.
With the IoT, the pendulum is swinging back to distributed environments. With all the data being generated by these devices, sensors and systems along with the demand to reduce costs and latency there is a need is to bring the infrastructure, analytics, security, AI and machine learning out to the network edge. Because that’s where the data can be processed in real time, analyzed and acted upon rather than sent back to the cloud or to a central data center.
The new IoT Division will be led by VMware Executive Vice President and CTO Ray O’Farrell. He will be responsible for developing IoT products and services as well as combining the Dell-developed systems with those of partners.
Those Dell products include the PowerEdge C-Series servers that contain support for batch training and machine learning for the distributed core. Others such as Isilon and Elastic Cloud Storage, Pivotal Cloud Foundry and Pivotal Container Service support cloud-based analytics applications.
Dell officials also unveiled several IoT-related software projects that are underway. Nautilus is aimed at enabling the real-time gathering and querying of data streams from IoT gateways. Meanwhile Fire is a hyperconverged platform that is part of the VMware Pulse lineup that will offer simplified management and local compute, storage and IoT applications such as real-time analytics. RSA Labs is developing Iris, which is a system aimed at bringing security to the edge. Worldwide Herd focuses on running analytics on dispersed data sets.
In addition, the company is investing in smaller companies, including FogHorn Systems, which is bringing analytics, AI and machine learning to the edge, ZingBox, which provides machine learning-based security at the edge and GraphCore and Edico Genome, which leverage machine learning and AI in new processor technologies.
Dell officials said the breadth and scale of the company since buying EMC last year for more than $60 billion and the fact that it is a private company that can more easily make investments in such forward-looking technologies is an advantage Dell has over such rivals as Hewlett Packard Enterprise and IBM. Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, told eWEEK that Dell is playing to its strengths with the IoT strategy.
“They’ve got a really great story on IoT that captures the essence of what a lot of other [competitors are saying], but they’ve put a spin on it that is decidedly focused on Dell’s own expectations and portfolio,” King said. Unlike HPE or IBM, Dell still has a strong endpoint business. “It’s hard to make an IoT play without some kind of endpoint. Dell is in a good position to do that,” King said.