Chief Content Officer,
Techstrong Group

One of the major challenges organizations encounter when trying to drive digital transformation initiatives at the network edge is simply configuring the various classes of platforms required and then finding a way to deploy them to often far-flung geographic locations. At the Dell Technologies World conference this week, Dell committed itself to managing that task on behalf of customers.

Via a Dell NativeEdge service the long-time provider of IT infrastructure will provide organizations with a catalogue of applications that Dell will provision on an edge computing platform and then drop ship to a location. After delivery, the platform will auto-configure itself to connect to the Internet. Once the device is running, Dell will then also manage the lifecycle of the devices deployed, including monitoring capabilities and providing updates to firmware and drivers whenever required.

Gil Shneorson, vice president of edge computing for Dell Technologies, said that approach will not only streamline operational technology (OT) operations but also make it easier to experiment. Instead of having to deploy multiple platforms ahead of time, organizations can now acquire and deploy a single proof-of-concept instance before committing to deploy additional platforms, he noted.

Dell NativeEdge employs multiple service orchestration frameworks to manage a range of type of platforms, ranging from virtual machines running monolithic code or a more modern application based on containers. Organizations can mix and match service orchestration blueprints based on nature of the edge computing use case, said Shneorson.

That approach also makes it possible to maintain a wide range of service level agreements (SLAs) across what has become a highly distributed computing environment, he added. “We’re bringing best IT practices to non-traditional edge computing environments, said Shneorson. “We had to reimagine how people do edge operations.”

Dell NativeEdge is one element of an overall edge computing strategy that now includes a Dell Validated Design for Retail Edge intelligent warehouse automation using inVia Robotics and a Dell Private Wireless Program expansion to secure connectivity across edge locations.

In the meantime, Dell is already seeing inference engines that are needed to be deploying artificial intelligence (AI) models at the edge being deployed. Soon the training of those AI models will also be pushed closer to the network edge as well, noted Shneorson. That will require more robust gateways capable of processing the data required to train an AI model.

In the meantime, digital CxOs will need to decide to what degree to rely on their own IT teams to manage edge computing environments versus a partner such as Dell. In the case of retail environments, more organizations are likely to rely on a partner, while manufacturers that have air-gapped environments to ensure security will continue to rely on internal IT teams, noted Shneorson.

Regardless of who is managing edge computing environments, the current level of distributed scale that digital businesses processes are driving at the network edge clearly requires a new approach to managing IT resources. Once that decision is made, however, the pace at which digital business transformation initiatives that process and analyze data at the point where it is created and consumed can be deployed at a dramatically increased rate.