Dell Technologies Launches A New IoT Division And Partner Program Amid 'Great Boom' In Edge Computing

Dell Technologies introduced a new division Tuesday focused on the development of Internet of Things products as well as a new IoT partner program as the market for edge computing continues to heat up.

Round Rock, Texas-based Dell said it's committed to investing $1 billion in its IoT initiative in the next three years, including into the new products and partner program.

"We are bringing together all our capabilities across Pivotal, VMware, Isilon, Dell EMC. We are building gateways for edge computing," Chairman and CEO Michael Dell said Monday during the 2017 Best of Breed Conference in Atlanta. "We think there is going to be a great boom here."

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The new Dell Technologies IoT Division will be headed by VMware Chief Technology Officer Ray O'Farrell. The division will build on Dell's work so far in the IoT space, which has included the launch of IoT gateways and the enhancement of Dell EMC PowerEdge C-Series servers to enable IoT applications.

The company Tuesday unveiled an array of IoT product and services initiatives that are in the works, including Project Nautilus, software under development by Dell EMC that can ingest and query real-time data from IoT gateways.

Other products under development include Project Fire, a hyper-converged offering from VMware for faster rollout of IoT applications; Project IRIS, an edge security analytics offering from RSA; and processor accelerators for faster edge analytics, which are expected to be developed in partnership with companies such as Intel and Nvidia.

Dell also said that IoT services will include identifying key business uses for IoT-generated data (dubbed IoT Vision Workshop) and developing IoT architectures and implementation road maps (known as IoT Technology Advisory).

In terms of Dell's partner efforts around IoT, the company said it's already been working with major technology vendors such as Microsoft and SAP on IoT projects, as well as with startups in the space. The plan now is to broaden the IoT partnering efforts to "support partners across all Dell Technologies businesses, allowing for easier collaboration and implementation of blueprints" in IoT, the company said.

"Dell's push in IoT really shows how big this marketplace is," said Michael Goldstein, president and CEO of LAN Infotech, a Dell partner based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "It's great to have a technology powerhouse like Dell behind this important initiative."

Dan DiSano, CEO of AxisPoint, a New York-based solution provider that works with Dell EMC, said creating an IoT division within the company could help partners capitalize on increasing demand for IoT products and services.

"The Internet of Things is really edge computing," DiSano said. "What [Dell Technologies] is doing is they're saying there are decisions that have to be made – whether it's in an autonomous car or a hospital bed or a refrigerator – that aren't going to go back to the data center. The decisions have to be made on the fly."

Solution providers "have to figure out how we play at the edge. We're trying to figure out how we best solve our clients' problems at the edge. It's a huge challenge," DiSano said. "There is still data center work to be done. There are public clouds, but what companies are doing is they're having a mixed environment. They still want on-prem for their most critical applications. Then they're doing some hybrid with public cloud. That's where everything is going, this hybrid model, and the edge computing is where decisions are being made. You're seeing things like AI and augmented reality, and we need to be there as well. Clients are asking for these things, and we're seeing that growth."

A recent IDC report forecast that worldwide IoT spending will grow 17 percent this year to about $800 billion and will grow to $1.4 trillion by 2021.

During the Best of Breed conference, in a fireside chat with The Channel Company CEO Robert Faletra, Michael Dell said that IoT should drive massive compute growth for partners.

"The explosion of the edge will generate way, way more data than anybody has ever imagined. All these devices as you go from a couple of billion connected devices to one hundred billion or a trillion, you are going to generate incredible quantities of data," Dell said. "We are seeing a boom in edge computing that is driven first by embedded intelligence. When we look at the companies that make things, they are putting in sensors that is going to require all kinds of computing, AI, machine learning close to those edge devices."

Matt Brown contributed to this story.