Dell Technologies Partners: Project Frontier A Gateway To Opportunity At The Edge
‘You don’t have to be niche. You’ve got the certified deployment schematic right here. We can go this route,’ says Josh Lee, director of sales with VirtuIT Systems.
Project Frontier is helping Dell Technologies integrators capture more revenue from their customers’ networks by giving partners industry-specific edge schematics, and a line of robust servers meant to take abuse far from the core.
“We have several customers who are in manufacturing or distribution, where we have the core data center business. When it came to IoT or the edge, that wasn’t really available to us because we didn’t specialize in it,” said Joshua Lee, director of sales with Nanuet, New York-based VirtuIT Systems. “(With Project Frontier) you don’t have to be niche. You’ve got the certified deployment schematic right here.”
Project Frontier will deliver an edge operations software platform that can securely scale edge application and infrastructure, while supporting the customer’s choice of software, IoT, operational and multi-cloud technologies, the company said.
Dell is leveraging its partnership with independent software vendors to make it easier for partners to create and deploy multi-vendor systems at the edge, something partners said is welcome assistance with those technologies. Dell is backing this with two pieces of hardware, the Dell PowerEdge XR4000, and the Dell Latitude 7230 Rugged Extreme Tablet, designed for harsh environments and the extreme edge.
Gil Shneorson, senior vice president of edge solutions at Dell Technologies, said Project Frontier offers Dell partners of all sizes opportunities. He said a large partner may deliver it as a managed service, while a smaller partner might only want to resell it, while a partner with a vertical skill could use it to specialize in high-end services.
“The example we gave in the video, which was a real example, was about curbside delivery,” he said, referring to a video briefing on Project Frontier. “You can take the server, and plug it into the network and its done. But before that a partner would need to get it there. They would need to build the power drops, the networking cables, they would need to advise and configure it.”
Lee said as soon as he saw Dell’s new PowerEdge XR4000 server he asked VirtuIT account managers to reach out to some of their manufacturing customers about creating edge appliances. He said some are headquartered in the Northeast, but have factories in the U.S. Midwest, Mexico and India.
Lee said bolting on Dell’s latest edge server to the customer’s existing Dell core infrastructure requires less expertise which lowers the deployment costs, giving his account managers a path to high value conversations with customers.
“Because it’s built on Dell, and their other stuff is built on Dell, the toolset is the same. There’s no specialized line card, it gives them standard operations with the rest of their IT stack … This could be a certified edge deployment that fits for manufacturing that fits for the rest of their stack. So the learning curve for their IT team is basically net zero.”
Rick Gouin, chief technology officer with Waltham, Mass.-based Winslow Technology Group, said his company has seen a surge of demand for edge environments for manufacturing customers, which he said has been their No. 1 vertical this year. While the business is great, the solutions are complex and can require specialized expertise in edge environments to put together.
“These tend to not be completed stacks of solutions. They are a largely partner assembled sort of thing,” he said. “One of the announcements of Project Frontier are the validated designs, which are sort of like blue-prints to roll this out in the manufacturing space. That kind of guidance is really helpful to us. As well as the hardware specific platforms for Edge and IoT. Those are helpful to us.”
Shneorson said Project Frontier is still in its early stages, but there is a massive upside for both Dell and partners to create and deploy the solutions together.
Gouin said the opportunity for partners will only get bigger as Dell shares more of its build-outs with partners.
“I do feel the need to lean on Dell to assemble that stuff, and so I’m hopeful this continues,” he said. “I’d like to see more validated designs. I’d like to see more whitepapers and documentation around building out these next gen manufacturing and IoT and edge solutions.”