New IoT Champion: Dell Commits to the Internet of Things


At the same time that IoT poster child GE is distancing itself from the Internet of Things, Dell is working to make its imprint on the IoT space.

Dell recently announced plan to invest at least $1 billion in its IoT efforts.

In October Dell Technologies held its first IQT Day. (The IQ stands for intelligence; the T standards for IoT technology.) There, the company unveiled its Internet of Things vision and strategy; a new IoT division; and a series of IoT specific products, labs, partner program and consumption models. It also announced its intention to spend at least $1 billion on IoT research and development.

During his keynote remarks announcing the news, Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell Technologies, said “I believe that AI and machine learning will be the jet engines off progress, and Dell will be the fuel.”

He went on to talk about the IQ of things, or the so-called IQT, as the next step in computing. That lives in the company’s new Distributed Core, which is part of the IoT infrastructure located between the edge devices and the cloud, he explained. In the core, a facility can perform localized, advanced analytics to decrease latency, while saving money on bandwidth usage.

“We need a new highly distributed computing model,” Dell said. “The IQT is the infrastructure for the next industrial revolution.”

This strategy was formulated after Dell heard from customers who expressed a growing need for one company to pull together complete IoT solutions that can be deployed within their organizations. Dell Technologies is setting itself to be that provider.

The company’s new IoT Division will be led by Ray O’Farrell, the former CTO of VMware, who is now general manager of the Dell IoT Division. He is tasked with orchestrating the development of IoT products and services across the Dell Technologies family. The IoT Solutions Division will combine internally developed technologies with offerings from the vast Dell Technologies ecosystem to deliver complete solutions for customers.

“Dell Technologies has long seen the opportunity within the rapidly growing world of IoT, given its rich history in the edge computing market,” said O’Farrell. “Our new IoT Division will leverage the strength across all of Dell Technologies’ family of businesses to ensure we deliver the right solution – in combination with our vast partner ecosystem – to meet customer needs and help them deploy integrated IoT systems with greater ease.”  

Over the next three years, Dell Technologies’ billion-dollar investment will go toward new IoT products, solutions, labs, and its partner program and ecosystem. New project initiatives include:

  • Dell EMC Project Nautilus: This is software that enables the ingestion and querying of data streams from IoT gateways in real time. Data can subsequently be archived to file or object storage for deeper advanced analytics.
  • Project Fire: This hyper converged platform is part of the VMware Pulse family of IoT solutions that includes simplified management, local compute, storage, and IoT applications such as real-time analytics. It enables businesses to rollout IoT use cases faster and have consistent infrastructure software from edge to core to cloud.
  • RSA Project IRIS: Currently under development in RSA Labs, Iris extends the security analytics capability to provide threat visibility and monitoring right out to the edge.
  • Project Worldwide Herd: This is for performing analytics on geographically dispersed data, which is increasingly important to enable deep learning on datasets that cannot be moved for reasons of size, privacy, and regulatory concern.

Dell Technologies also continues its commitment to openness and standardization in IoT by participatng in efforts such as EdgeX Foundry, the Industrial Internet Consortium, and the OpenFog Consortium. Seeded by Dell source code, EdgeX Foundry is a vendor-neutral open source project building a common interoperability framework to facilitate an ecosystem for edge computing. Since launching in April 2017, EdgeX Foundry has grown to include more than 60 member organizations. Recently the project announced its first major milestone with the Barcelona code release, as well as an alliance with the IIC to collaborate on testbeds.

While Dell is clearly not the only company making big bets on the IoT – a space that is expected to generate $267 billion in business-to-busines spending by 2020 – the company’s $1 billion investment plan for the Internet of Things is noteworthy – particularly in light of the timing. The IoT space could use a little boost in light IoT pioneer GE’s struggles.

GE in recent months has seen a recent leadership shakeup prompted by its string of missed cash flow targets and sagging share price. In June, GE replaced CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who served as the company’s key IoT champion, with John Flannery. And in October Immelt vacated his GE chairman and and director roles – two months earlier than expected.

For now the focus at GE is on cost cutting. And that doesn’t bode well for future GE investments in the IoT. Flannery has been reviewing each of GE’s businesses, and was expected to present a plan in November for his strategy for the company going forward. In the meantime, we learned in September that ABB Group of Europe will be buying GE Industrial Solutions, which sells circuit breakers, power systems, and transformers for environments like data centers and oil and gas implementations, for $2.6 billion.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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Executive Editor, TMC

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