The Internet of Things (IoT) has had at least a thousand definitions from end point, gateway, datacenter and cloud companies. Companies like Cisco Systems , Dell , Hewlett-Packard , IBM and Intel are talking a lot about IoT. But what is IoT really about? IoT is about making decisions at the right place and at the right time. By following this “mantra” organizations can optimize systems to provide business value, whether it be to predict or prevent a costly shutdown or to alter a piece of equipment based on real-time data. Maximum value is generated by employing a combination of decision making techniques at the sensor or device, the edge of the network, and the datacenter or cloud. Companies that truly embrace IoT systems are looking for solutions that can securely puzzle together all of these pieces.
So what’s holding the industry back? There’s a good reason why people hear a lot of talk but see little action: the mature (and secure) hardware and software solutions just haven’t been available. Architecting de-centralized systems that have to comprehend the sheer amount of data generated by all these new sensors and devices, decide where to move that data, then analyze and act on that data in real-time is no easy task. It requires an architecture that can balance distributed networking, computation, and storage—all while maintaining the highest level of data security.
Edge analytics are critical to the IoT. They not only move decision making to the edge, providing real-time actions, but they also help manage the networking problem by deciding what data to move past the edge, and what can “stay at home”, relieving network bandwidth issues.
To date there has been a lot of industry noise about analytics at the edge, but not enough deployable networking equipment to make IoT optimization and real-time decision making a reality. Most people think of gateways as a “traffic cop”, i.e. a place to aggregate data and steer it to where it needs to go. Most of us futurists have long believed this has to change. The gateway needs to change to what I would describe as the combination of a gateway and server. The gateway needs to not only steer data traffic, but store and act on it, as well. Companies such as Cisco Systems and Dell from the networking side and Hewlett-Packard from the service side need to step up and deliver intelligent gateways that can manage both the data traffic and the analytics at the edge.
Dell wants to push this IoT vision a little closer to reality with the introduction of the new Edge Gateway 5000 Series. Dell states that the 5000 Series was designed specifically for building and factory environments, by providing both an industrial form factor and extended temperature ranges. The initial specifications show that Dell has taken the traditional gateway architecture and added additional storage, computation, and analytics capabilities—making an edge analytics machine out of a traditional gateway. In combination with this hardware introduction, Dell also announced Dell Statistica, a supporting middleware solution that allows for analytics on the gateway. Dell claims that the new hardware/software combination will provide faster local insights, and a reduction in data traffic to the cloud.
As I have recently discussed, Dell is a vendor that I believe understands the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and is developing a full set of solutions that allow organizations to leverage their current infrastructure investments, while adding new and unique IoT capabilities. In addition to today’s introductions, in recent years Dell has added a wide range of software and services partners that are focused on IoT solutions—key players like Intel, SAP , OSISoft, ThingWorx, Zone, and ELM Energy. The addition of the 5000 Gateway shows me that Dell is strongly committed to the IoT space and wants to be a leading player. Their actions show a serious commitment to proving IIoT solutions across the board to organizations worldwide.