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How Dell is easing edge deployments

Dell’s NativeEdge platform could make it easier to deploy and manage edge computing applications and infrastructure through validated designs for industry-specific applications use cases

The Asia-Pacific region is set to become the second-largest edge computing market by 2024, but adoption of the technology can be fraught with challenges due to the proliferation of devices, diverse connectivity technologies and security risks.

The highly fragmented market is not helping either, as organisations could be dealing with multiple suppliers of edge and internet of things (IoT) devices and software in their edge computing deployments.

While some consolidation is expected, suppliers such as Dell Technologies and their partners have begun offering edge solutions aimed at different industries such as manufacturing, retail and healthcare.

At the recent Dell Technologies World, the company capped its edge offerings with a management platform that it claimed would make it easier to simplify, secure and automate edge infrastructure and application deployments.

Dubbed NativeEdge, the platform started out as Project Frontier that was first announced in October 2022 to help enterprises securely scale edge operations through an open design, zero-trust principles, hardware integration and zero-touch deployment.

Pierluca Chiodelli, vice-president of product management for edge solutions at Dell, said NativeEdge was created as a “horizontal platform” to solve edge-specific challenges related to skills shortages, scalability and cost.

More importantly, he noted that NativeEdge comes with validated designs, a set of blueprints that organisations can use to speed up deployments of edge applications and infrastructure.

Teaming up with inVia Robotics, a supplier of warehouse robots, Dell introduced a validated design to help retailers become more efficient with last-mile picking and packing by converting existing warehouse and retail space into micro-fulfilment centres.

“The cool thing is that the robots can go around retrofitting existing shelves, and the scanning, software and analytics behind all of that is run on Dell,” Chiodelli said.

A validated design for retail analytics has also been developed with another technology partner to track customer footfall, “so if many people pass by a certain location in a store, you can reorganise your shelf for someone to pick something up”, he added.

Dell’s validated designs are prescriptive in the choice of technology to ensure performance levels for small, medium and large configurations with guaranteed outcomes are met.

That said, Chiodelli noted that organisations can still deploy validated technologies in other configurations outside of Dell’s validated designs: “We’ll give you the freedom to do the things you want, but without the support of validated designs, which are treated as products that have been tested and certified.”

Based on its internal study of nearly 100 large customers to assess the potential economic impact of NativeEdge deployments for a typical manufacturing customer, Dell found that a three-year investment in NativeEdge could reap a return-on-investment (ROI) of up to 130%.

The time to onboard devices could also be cut by up to 20 minutes, along with a decrease in edge operations costs with zero-touch provisioning, the company claimed.

Besides Dell, cloud providers and telcos have also expanded their edge and IoT offerings in recent years as more organisations adopt distributed infrastructures that span edge and cloud locations.

Chiodelli said the fact that NativeEdge is an open platform lets organisations run cloud services or software of their choice, opening opportunities for partnerships with hyperscalers and technology suppliers: “The platform is open, so if you’d like to run OpenVino, EdgeX or AKS [Azure Kubernetes Service], the platform doesn’t preclude them.

On how Dell is securing its edge offerings, Chiodelli said apart from implementing hardware roots of trust to prevent device tampering, the NativeEdge platform only allows data to be pulled from devices but not vice versa, and that physical and software ports can be closed.

“You can define all of that through the templates in the blueprints,” he added.

Read more about edge computing in APAC

Read more on Internet of Things (IoT)

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