The new world of the Internet of Things (IoT) has many old world IT companies talking a lot of IoT without really adding much innovation to the data led, start-up driven revolution.
However, Dell, along with their perennial partners Intel, are employing a fresh approach of enabling the innovation of start-ups within the IoT space. While their hardware is a key element of the profitability of the approach, the two companies have created a number of new platforms to foster IoT development.
Jointly funded with Intel, Dell has created “IoT Labs” in Santa Clara, California, Limerick, Ireland, and Singapore. The labs provide potential and future Dell customers with a facility to develop proof-of-concept projects in IoT. At the IoT labs, companies collect data from remote sensors, aggregate them from the Dell Edge Gateway 5000 Series using analytics software and then send them to the cloud.
The projects may include work with end point devices, networking, computing, storage and analytics software and services, or simply connecting sensors to the gateway. The resident Dell IoT teams provide the infrastructure for customers to test their solutions, and system integrators help customers with deployment.
“As many of the current engagements in IoT span both digital and analogue sensors, leveraging the Dell Edge Gateway reduces the need for sensors to directly send data to the cloud”, said Glen Burrows, regional general manager, Asia Pacific and Japan, for Dell OEM Solutions. “The Dell Edge Gateway aggregates the data and can run a wide range of analytics software, including Dell Statistica, to determine the type, size and frequency of sensor data to send through the cloud to customers’ big data infrastructure,” he said.
Also in partnership with Intel, Dell launched a large-scale contest called “Connect What Matters”, which offers prizes to companies that design IoT solutions with their new Edge Gateway.
“What we would like to see come out of the contest are some really cool innovative IoT concepts that will add value”, Raja Tamilarasan, product technologist consultant for Internet of Things (IoT) and OEM Solutions at Dell, told Power More. “It could be a new way of managing a fleet or an enhanced building automation setup”.
The 16 prizes range from $20,000 to $150,000. Winning companies will also receive consulting support from Dell business and engineering experts and gain access to Dell’s IoT labs across the globe. “We’re seeing a lot of small and new companies coming up with really, really, great ideas”, said Jeff McCann, director of Dell’s EMEA IoT labs in Limerick, Ireland, and the Dubai Solution Centre. “I think the competition is encouraging them to actually take those ideas and bring them to the next stage”.
The two long-established hardware firms are leveraging their trusted position in this new world to feed off the innovative spirit that epitomises the forth industrial revolution currently underway. Dell and Intel were born with the third revolution of electronics, IT and automated production, but are now evolving for the forth – Cyber-Physical Systems.
At this intersection of the OT and IT worlds, Dell, seeing an opportunity in the rapidly emerging Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) space, has been integrating the data needs of the OT playfield with its trademark IT manageability from enterprise and manufacturing sector, and is taking the resulting IIoT products to the embedded world.
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Dell has recognised the fact that IIoT embodies an evolution from the existing technologies like M2M, and therefore, it's enabling system integrators and builders to upgrade their industrial control environments to more intelligent IIoT systems in a pragmatic and flexible manner.
Dell’s heritage in manufacturing and supply chain has brought about shorter lead times enabled by the agile use of commercial off-the-shelf components. Unlike the usual design-to-order IIoT systems, which typically have long lead times, Dell has reduced the lead-time from months to weeks with a configure-to-order approach. This also helps to offset the need to order large quantities to ensure units are in stock, and then incurring warehousing costs while technology on PCs grows stale.
While hardware will continue to be a key element of the cyber-physical systems era, it is vital that traditional hardware firms keep their ears, or sensors, to the ground amid the rapid changes taking place. Dell and Intel seem to have found an approach that may well keep them at the heart of the new age of technology.