Dell Technologies spearheaded by Dell (notably its Dell IoT Division) and Dell EMC (notably Dell EMC OEM & IoT Solutions) is a driving force in the industrial and enterprise world of the Internet of Things (IoT).

IoT is one of the next big “things” where our information technology society will thrive. Physical devices, vehicles and buildings, along with almost any type of physical object you can think of, can support sensors, actuators and network conductivity that collect and exchange data for analysis. The resulting machine-to-machine (M2M) communications requires a flexible IT infrastructure that properly distributes analytical processing power, storage and connectivity along a continuum from the edge (where the things reside) to the core (where the data centers and clouds reside).

Dell wisely recognizes that the IoT is too big and broad to tackle as a whole, so it is focusing on enterprise-class applications, such as industrial, transportation and energy applications. This is very real. Let’s look at just four of the examples the company provided.

  • Energy — Continuous, real-time remote pump monitoring for a refinery can detect abnormal situations and other issues before they cause a problem; even a modest improvement in availability can be worth millions in repairs costs and lost time.
  • Factory — Integrating what Dell calls the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) into shop floor machines that can, among other benefits, reduce downtime through preventative maintenance; Dell claims a 24% improvement in return on assets.
  • Logistics — Fleet management (as part of the supply chain) can utilize telematics (such as GPS) data and sensor information (such as temperature and humidity) that can lead to significant reductions in product spoilage, mechanical damages, driver incidents and insurance claims.
  • Agriculture — Adopting some manufacturing principles for farms, such as capturing and streaming data from key parameters in the field, can result in benefits such as improving crop yields. This can lead to significant, not simply small incremental benefits.

Dell Technologies wisely recognizes that it cannot deal with all use cases, but also that each use case is more or less unique. That means that a sale not only involves products and services, but also often includes partners that provide critical parts of the solution that Dell does not have in-house.

That means that Dell has to find, facilitate, coordinate and integrate with a range of partners, from household names to specialized niche companies, such as those who deal with analytics for specific industrial applications and use cases. Note that these partners are not only technology partners but also service partners, such as those focusing on last mile delivery.

But what is it that Dell Technologies offers? This week, the company announced its new Edge Gateway 3000 Series that adds to its already existing Gateway portfolio of products. Gateway products enable edge data capture and analytics, such as local rule-based control decisions and stream processing. That not only conserves network bandwidth and minimizes downtime by ensuring that only meaningful events are sent to a core data center or cloud, but also ensures faster insight and control to what can be handled at the edge. Gateway products are ruggedized for extreme environments and feature the low power requirements and small size needed to manage IoT at the edge. The three new models have tailored I/O. The 3001 is targeted at general automation, the 3002 at transportation, and the 3003 at media/retail kiosks.

Meanwhile Dell EMC announced its micro Modular Data Centers (MDCs) to provide data center capabilities closer to the user. These micro MDCs are small, nimble data centers that are pre-integrated with compute, storage, networking, power and cooling and can also include Dell Edge Gateways to speed the storage, processing and analysis of data at the edge.

The other companies in the Dell Technologies portfolio also help in building solutions across the IoT continuum. VMware helps with manageability. IoT security is a big issue, and RSA, VMware, and SecureWorks all have their roles to play. Virtustream helps Dell EMC in the data center and the cloud while Pivotal helps Dell EMC in cloud application development and integration.

Mesabi musings

Among the panoply of IT trends is the Internet of Things. Any large information infrastructure company worth its salt has to strive for a leadership role in IoT. Dell Technologies clearly has a vision for IoT and is going in the right direction. It has the focus to make sure that it doesn’t try to do more than is possible, the skill sets and products to do the right thing in the vertical industrial and enterprise-class markets it is targeting, and the ability to find, attract, and integrate the necessary partners to provide successful use case solutions. Also, the new Edge 3000 products broadens Dell’s IoT portfolio and thus opens up new market opportunities for the company. Dell Technologies is therefore doing well in IoT and would appear on its way to continue to build upon its successes.