When Michael Dell turned the focus to new products and initiatives during his Dell World keynote last week, the first product mentioned was an Internet of Things (IoT) device.

Dell provides servers (for cloud storage), software, and analytics engines that provide the end point for the IoT ecosystem. This device, Edge Gateway 5000 series, takes Dell’s offering to the other side of the ecosystem—closer to the edge device.

Companies in the automation software space have talked for years about having meetings with operation technology (OT) professionals and bringing in information technology (IT) professionals—often the first time the two groups have met.

Dell is spinning the same story. It is strong on the IT side, but it is not a stranger to OT. Well, it is also trying to be the catalyzing force to bring IT and OT to the same table.

Some highlights:

• Edge Gateway 5000 Series delivers purpose-built gateway with analytics capabilities, expansive input/output (I/O) options, and ability to operate in extreme environments
• Solution designed for rigors of building and factory automation sectors; signals Dell’s deep partnerships with operational and information technology organizations, including OSIsoft
• Dell Edge Gateway adds to industry’s broadest portfolio of IoT assets, spanning newly revamped Dell Statistica advanced analytics, hardware, digital services and security and manageability software

Dell announced the launch of the new Edge Gateway 5000 Series purpose-built for the building and factory automation sectors. Composed of an industrial-grade form factor, expanded input and output interfaces, and with wide operating temperature ranges, the product, combined with data analytics capabilities, promises to give companies an edge computing solution alternative to today’s costly, proprietary IoT offerings.

Making good decisions using data generated by sensors is the central objective of IoT. Yet the rich data generated by IoT devices presents its own set of challenges. Harbor Research estimates that by 2020 smart systems will create over 194 petabytes of data. The sheer volume and complexity of managing this new decentralized, localized data can quickly overload traditional environments and analysis tools. Edge analytics, carried out with the help of versatile gateways, will help with this data overload by determining what data needs to be acted on quickly and then filtered or stored.

The Dell Edge Gateway sits at the edge of the network (near the devices and sensors) with local analytics and other middleware to receive, aggregate, analyze and relay data, then minimizes expensive bandwidth by relaying only meaningful data to the cloud or datacenter. Thanks to new Dell Statistica data analytics also announced today, Dell is expanding capabilities out to the gateway. This means companies can now extend the benefits of cloud computing to their network edge and for faster and more secure business insights while saving on the costly transfer of data to and from the cloud.

“Organizations are struggling to make the best decisions regarding the data volume and complexity created by the vast numbers of sensors, embedded systems and connected devices now on the network,” said Andy Rhodes, executive director, Commercial IoT Solutions, Dell. “As more of the data is processed in real time at the edge of the network, the gateway becomes the spam filter for IoT.”

Dell’s end-to-end portfolio

The Edge Gateway 5000 is the newest addition to Dell’s end-to-end portfolio of IoT-enabling solutions and services, which provide customers with choice and flexibility to architect IoT ecosystems with analytics at the edge, the cloud or the data center. The gateway is available for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to build into their solutions or for building and factory automation customers to use as part of their IoT strategy which can span data center solutions, advanced analytics and digital services. Additionally, customers’ can take advantage of Dell’s global availability, trusted security options, and Dell Support and Deployment services including ProSupport which provides end-to-end hardware support throughout the entire product lifecycle, helping customers maximize their gateway environment and minimize time spent on maintenance.

For example, ELM Energy is already using Dell gateways to make a difference in securing a more sustainable energy future. ELM’s FieldSight Controller automates decision structures that toggle between the use of distributed energy sources such as solar, wind and backup generators and traditional utility grid sources. The systems also help customers make decisions about the most effective times to broker surplus energy back to the open market.

“Through the power of technology, ELM Energy and Dell are enabling real-time decision making that is optimizing and balancing power generation and maximizing the use of renewable energy,” said James Richmond, president, ELM Energy. “For example, if the renewable energy being generated exceeds demand, our technology is able to automatically decide if the excess should be fed back to the grid or stored for later use when the renewable sources are unavailable. The new Dell Edge Gateway 5000 Series is the perfect platform for our FieldSight Edge software to perform computing functions close to the source, at a fantastic value.”

Additional Dell Edge Gateway 5000 Series benefits include:
• Ability to be mounted on the wall and to operate in locations with extreme temperatures like boiler rooms and deserts
• Expansive I/O structure designed to bridge both legacy serial connections (RS-422/485, CAN bus) and modern wireless networks (Wi-Fi, 802.15.4 mesh) to the internet with expansion capability for future options [they tell me that they are investigating a range of other connectivity]
• Operating system flexibility with choices that include Ubuntu Snappy, Wind River Linux, Windows 10 IoT Enterprise
• Security foundation including TPM, secure boot and BIOS level lockdown of I/O ports
• Manageability with Dell Command|Monitor for Linux and Dell Cloud Client Manager
• Dell is working with innovative independent software vendors and system integrators like SAP, OSIsoft, Eigen Innovations and Lucid to add domain expertise
• Standard Dell lead times allowing customers to receive hardware quickly, a rarity in the OT industry today
• Consulting, strategy and integration from Dell Services to help information-intensive enterprises like healthcare and insurance customize IoT approaches for their industry
Dell and Intel are also launching the “Connect What Matters” contest for innovative IoT solutions built on Dell Edge Gateways. The contest is open to commercial companies and solutions can be developed for any vertical. Participants will compete for the Best IoT Design, and the deadline for submissions is March 31, 2016.

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