Dell announces new IoT organization to improve ‘IQT’ co-ordination among Dell companies

Dell doubles down on the Internet of Things, announcing a new organization, enhanced funding and a road map for future innovation.

At what Dell Technologies is touting as their IQT – adding IQ to the Internet of Things – the company made a series of announcements around their Internet of Things strategy. It includes some tangibles – a billion dollars of new R&D investment – and futures, in the form of several key products in development. The most significant part of the announcement though is the creation of a new IoT Division to execute the strategy, in particular, to execute the coordination between Dell EMC and the different Dell companies who all do elements which relate to the Internet of Things.

“We created Dell Technologies to combine together Dell EMC, Pivotal, Virtustream, SecureWorks , RSA and VMware, said Dell CEO and Chairman Michael Dell to the New York gathering. “We also have the biggest ecosystem in the tech industry. This is the next era of human machine partnership – a more integrated and personal relationship with technology. The IQT is the backbone of this future. It’s the infrastructure for the next Industrial Revolution. The true potential of the IoT and AI can be unlocked when they come together as one complete ecosystem. We call this the IQT –  the next evolutionary step in computing.”

Dell Technologies is emphasizing that their vision of the Internet emphasizes moving away from what they see as an overly centralized focus on the cloud towards a combination of the cloud, the edge, and a distributed core between them.

“You need a highly distributed computing model at the edge,” Dell said. “You also need a layer near the edge – the distributed core – to handle real events in real time. This highly distributed compute model is the basis of our Internet of Things strategy, although the cloud remains extremely important for AI, deep learning and analytics.

“The edge will be everywhere and everything,” Dell added. “That is the Internet of Things and eventually it will be the Internet of Everything. With the cost of a node approaching zero dollars, they are exploding. We will have the ability to harness that data.  AI and machine learning will be the jet engines of human progress, and data will be the fuel for that progress.”

Ray O’Farrell, the CTO of VMware, adds responsibility for the IoT Division to his bailiwick. His task is to operationalize and execute the vision.

“The key role of the new IoT division is to leverage assets across all of Dell Technologies,” O’Farrell said. “We will also focus on our broad ecosystem of partners. Together we will drive a uniform go-to-market strategy making it easy for customers to consume, and build new products to drive the future of IoT.

“We intend to make IoT real,” he stressed. “Dell has a lot of products that go right to the foundation of delivering IoT. The key insight is that the real strength of IoT is characterized by the essential connectedness of what’s at the edge. The edge, the core and the cloud must interplay together.”

The presentation highlighted the VMware Pulse IoT Center, an enterprise grade IoT infrastructure management solution introduced earlier this year as the first in a series of VMware IoT management solutions.

“VMWare Pulse IoT Center allows you to take control of the edge – updating, protecting and securing the edge,” O’Farrell said. Other existing Dell Technologies solutions that are part of the IOT portfolio include Dell Edge Gateways, which can be secured and managed by the VMware IoT Center.  Dell EMC PowerEdge C-Series servers have been enhanced for batch training and machine learning as a part of the distributed core. Dell EMC Isilon and Elastic Cloud Storage provide file and object storage to enable large-scale analytics. Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) and Pivotal Container Service provide a platform for developing new cloud-based analytics applications.  Virtustream’s PCF Service provides a managed Pivotal Cloud Foundry Service in Virtustream Enterprise Cloud, while Virtustream Storage Cloud provides off-premises cloud object storage. Finally, the Dell Boomi integration platform rapidly connects relevant data to enhance cloud-based analytics and deep learning.

Jeremy Burton, Dell’s Chief Marketing Officer, provided an overview of Dell IoT components which are not available today, but which are on the drawing board.

“Dell EMC’s Project Nautilus is software that takes data off devices and adds metadata to make it available for querying,” he said.  “Project Fire is key to compute and storage moving out to the edge.” It’s a hyper-converged platform that will be part of the VMware Pulse family, and will let businesses  roll-out IoT use cases faster and have consistent infrastructure software from edge to core to cloud.

“Project Fire uses VMware SDC Manager, VSphere, VSAN and NSX, with IoT specific software and analytics on top,” O’Farrell said. It is a hyper-converged infrastructure that is ready to go.”

Project Iris, a third project Burton spotlighted, is an RSA project, currently under development in RSA Labs. Iris will provide threat visibility and monitoring right out to the edge.

Finally, Burton highlighted ‘Worldwide Herd’, new Dell consulting services using a platform to perform analytics on geographically dispersed data.

“Worldwide Herd provides the capability for distributed analytics where the data resides,” Burton said.

Dell also announced that their IoT Solutions Partner Program, which has more than 90 vendor partners from both large enterprises like Intel, Microsoft and SAP, and start-ups like Action Point, IMS Evolve, FogHorn and Zingbox, is being expanded to support partners across all Dell Technologies businesses. They also issued a clarion call for other companies who can contribute an innovative component to an IoT solution to give them a look.

“If you have a differentiated proposition in this space, we want to hear form you,” said Joyce Mullen, SVP/General Manager Global OEM and IOT Solutions at Dell. “We have carefully curated this group of partners, and now over 90 in this program, who rely on Dell for their IoT infrastructure. With these terrific partners we have built out 22 solutions for different problems and use cases. If you are a partner and are passionate about IoT, check us out.”

So what does all this mean? While Dell has introduced a new acronym in IQT, the strategy behind it is not really unique, and is essentially similar to what others like Cisco and Hitachi are doing. The big news here isn’t really the strategy, but the formal modification of Dell’s IOT strategy to encompass all the other Dell companies in a  more systematic manner, and the creation of the new organization to ensure that the execution follows.

Patrick Moorhead, President and Principal Analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, emphasized that this organizational change makes the new strategy much more than simply a marketing event.

“With a focused organization with real metrics, this is more than a collection of companies doing disparate things,” he said. “It’s much more integrated.  That along with the $1 billion investment tells me this is different, and that it’s more than was being done before.”

Moorhead also noted that Dell’s increased emphasis on the Internet of Things space also is a sign that Dell believes that the full potential to monetize the IoT has arrived.

“Michael Dell rarely makes an investment that can’t pay back in the midterm time frame, between 3-5 years,” he said. “That tells me we are out of the lab and into real IoT revenue.”