Dell turns Project Frontier into commercial edge product with NativeEdge platform

Dell NativeEdge rethinks how the Dell edge portfolio will respond to customer needs going forward, with enterprise security, management and orchestration.

LAS VEGAS – Today at Dell Technologies World here, Dell Technologies is announcing the ‘productization’ of its former Project Frontier into Dell NativeEdge, an edge operations software platform that helps businesses simplify and optimize secure edge deployments, by rethinking what edge operations will look like in the future. Project Frontier, which was announced last October, is now being closed, and turned into the NativeEdge product.

“We had to reimagine how people will do edge operations going forward,” said Gil Shneorson, Senior Vice President of Edge Portfolio and Solutions at Dell. “And so, when we started working on this and designing this within Project Frontier, we had a lot of very specific edge constraints in mind that we designed. For example, we looked for an ability to do edge operations without skilled resources on site, and for the ability to do it with Zero Trust architecture all the way from root of trust security up to applications.

“NativeEdge is the industry’s only edge operation platform that mixes up and  delivers three things in parallel,” Shneorson stated. “It delivers secure device onboarding at scale. It delivers remote management of those devices in the locations. And it delivers multi-cloud application orchestration to make sure that the edge outcome end-to-end is deployed and lifecycled.”

Shneorson outlined the significant design challenges in putting NativeEdge together.

“We had to design it in imagining connectivity challenges being able to run in a high bandwidth network, but also very slow on satellite link or AirGap for security,” he said. “We had planned this to be a consistent experience, whether it’s an IoT gateway that we’re connecting, or a commercial PC or a high-end server because we want to be able to match price points to outcomes and still deliver a consistent experience. We also had to reimagine massive scales from a few manufacturing plans to thousands of retail stores to tens of thousands.”

They also to design this as multi cloud by design, because the applications are natively running it, although they are for the most part created between different type of cloud platforms, homegrown development and Kubernetes or container technology.

“So we had to think about all of those things when we designed native edge, and that’s what we did,” Shneorson said. “A customer that has NativeEdge , regardless of the industry they work in, will have customer applications in a catalogue. Those could be ISV off the shelf applications. Those could be homegrown, developed applications connected to their CIC pipeline. Those could be cloud native runtimes, and they’re all placed in a catalogue from where they can deploy those applications to all of their edge points in an automated matter. Those are drop-shipped from Dell to an end user They are digitally signed to belong to a specific customer, and we have commercialized a process called secure device onboarding at commercial scale. That device on site connects securely and is verified that it hasn’t been tempered with. Then what it does is auto-configure to the operating environment in the application that needs to run.”

Shneorson also emphasized that Dell has got the partner ecosystem that can populate the catalogue and create a very rich ecosystem around a media.

“That’s what customers are going to experience when they’re going to deploy NativeEdge at a very high level,” he said. “It is designed with a combination of a secure operating environment running on edge devices. This could be an Edge gateway, or a Dell Optiplex, or a Dell server, some rugged, some not, based on customer choice, all of them connected to an orchestrator that holds the catalogue blueprinting. This allows us to manage all of that fleet all the way from devices to applications.”

Shneorson emphasized that NativeEdge will simplify their customers operations by the very new levels of automation that were not there before.

“From onboarding devices to central management and orchestrating applications, the optimization piece comes in, because then they will need less POCs,” he said. They could consolidate multiple applications into the same architecture. And yet we will keep it highly open for different OT systems, IoT frameworks, applications, many partnering opportunities, and a lot of customer choice, including the right sizing of the hardware required with the same experience. And we’re going to secure it all the way from hardware through security controls on the devices themselves.”

These will be available for sale this August. There’s a one year or three year subscription plan delivered on premises, and a SaaS option.

In addition to NativeEdge, Shneorson announced three new innovations for their edge business.

“The first one is a new validated design for retail customers with NVIDIA robotics,” he said. “And we today have an in-store analytic solution, and this solution is focused on micro-fulfillment centers. This solution is validated on a VM stack and Azure stack for our customers, and it’s going to be available in June of this year.”

Shneorson also pointed out that they now have a Dell private wireless, with Airspan and Android.

“This solution is great for those customers who need connectivity to their thousands of edge devices,” he said “It is another validated design which could be consumed as a managed service in parts from us, or from the cloud communication service provider, and will be available in June as well.

Lastly is an announcement around Dell’s Enterprise SONiC distribution, which is for us a way to connect an alternative, to connect edge sites and provide an open network with edge-specific features. That will be available this month.