Dell and Microsoft team to offer new IoT edge platform
Two CEOs meet: Microsoft's Satya Nadella (left) and Michael Dell.

Dell and Microsoft team to offer new IoT edge platform

Dell Technologies and Microsoft have joined forces to create an integrated Internet of Things (IoT) offering to help vertical customers simplify IoT management, and enhance security between the edge and the cloud.

The new hardware and software platform brings together Microsoft’s Azure IoT Edge offering with Dell edge gateways and VMWare’s Pulse IoT Center. The aim is to centralise monitoring and help lower the cost of running IoT networks in the edge environment, which minimises the latency problem of sending data workloads to the cloud.

The offering is the latest in Dell and Microsoft’s longstanding Global Alliance partnership, and was announced as Dell hosted its Dell Technologies World Conference in Las Vegas.

Both companies have recently launched new IoT strategies that focus on edge deployments and the distributed core, with Dell announcing a $1 billion investment in a dedicated division last October, and Microsoft trailing its $5 billion refocusing on IoT last month.

Chris Wolff, Dell’s head of OEM and IOT GTM, said, “When we unveiled the Dell Technologies IoT division last fall, we committed to leaning on the Dell Technologies family of businesses to engineer the right solutions to meet customer needs, in conjunction with our partner ecosystem. This collaboration will enable customers to implement IoT more seamlessly, for better and faster ROI.”

What’s on the table?

Microsoft’s Azure IoT Edge extends cloud intelligence to edge devices, so that they can act locally while still making use of the cloud for global coordination and machine learning at scale.

Meanwhile, Dell’s Intel Atom-powered edge gateways connect a variety of wired and wireless devices to aggregate and analyse inputs and send relevant data to the cloud.

In between sits VMware’s Pulse IoT Center, which aims to provide secure enterprise management and monitoring of edge sensors and other devices, including gateways and device operating systems.

Strategic goals

The ‘big picture’ aim of the tie-up is to help accelerate IoT adoption in industry verticals that wish to explore predictive maintenance and greater supply chain visibility via the technologies, explained the companies in a joint announcement.

Client organisations also want to harness artificial intelligence (AI) and real-time decision-making, while making sure that IoT deployments, asset management, security, and compliance can be managed from a central point, it added.

Ruston Panabaker, Microsoft VP of IoT Solutions, said, “When businesses deploy secure intelligent edge to cloud solutions, they can take full advantage of the digital transformation opportunities IoT represents.

“By delivering this integrated edge-to-cloud solution, Microsoft and Dell Technologies are making it easier for customers to empower their employees, optimise operations, and reimagine their products, services, or even business models.”

Mimi Spier, VP of VMware’s IoT Business, added, “Teaming up with Microsoft on IoT and edge is a natural fit, based on the complementary technologies we offer today.”

The joint IoT offering will be available in the second half of 2018, said the companies.

Plus: Microsoft launches IIoT security project

In related news, Microsoft has announced that it is embarking on a new project designed to protect IoT and industrial control systems from cyber attacks.

Called Trusted Cyber Physical Systems, or TCPS , the project was launched at the Hannover Messe 2018 trade show in Germany last week, and combines on-chip Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs), gateways, and the separation of critical and non-critical functions.

The firm cited the recent Triton malware outbreak as the driver of the project. “This attack brought to light two challenges prevalent in today’s connected world: a need to prevent malware from taking control of key operations, and a hacker’s ability to leverage third-party operators […] to introduce malware,” said Thomas Pfenning, Microsoft’s director of Software Engineering.

Additional reporting: Rene Millman

Internet of Business says

Speaking last week as Microsoft unveiled stellar quarterly results, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “The intelligent cloud and the intelligent edge era is already upon us. It represents a tremendous opportunity. We took significant steps this quarter to put this at the forefront of everything we do, realigning our entire engineering organisation to accelerate innovation and better serve the needs of customers and partners.”

Last October in New York, Dell Technologies chief Michael Dell made similar comments about the importance of the edge environment as the IoT spreads and gains critical mass. “The edge will be everywhere and everything: that is the Internet of Things and, ultimately, it will be the Internet of Everything,” he said.

“And it’s happening fast. With the cost of a connected node approaching zero dollars, the number of them is exploding. We’ll soon have 100 billion connected devices, and then a trillion, and we will be awash in rich data. But, more importantly, we’ll have the ability to harness that data.”

• Meanwhile, there is no firm news as yet of whether privately held Dell will go for IPO, or carry out a complex reverse merger with its VMware subsidiary.

Read more on the the shift from cloud to edge computing.

Chris Middleton
Chris Middleton is former editor of Internet of Business, and now a key contributor to the title. He specialises in robotics, AI, the IoT, blockchain, and technology strategy. He is also former editor of Computing, Computer Business Review, and Professional Outsourcing, among others, and is a contributing editor to Diginomica, Computing, and Hack & Craft News. Over the years, he has also written for Computer Weekly, The Guardian, The Times, PC World, I-CIO, V3, The Inquirer, and Blockchain News, among many others. He is an acknowledged robotics expert who has appeared on BBC TV and radio, ITN, and Talk Radio, and is probably the only tech journalist in the UK to own a number of humanoid robots, which he hires out to events, exhibitions, universities, and schools. Chris has also chaired conferences on robotics, AI, IoT investment, digital marketing, blockchain, and space technologies, and has spoken at numerous other events.