Antonio Neri, CEO and President of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), used the phrase “Data is the new currency, memory the new gold” in his keynote to the company’s annual US customer conference Discover in Las Vegas in June. Just one of the many places I’ve been lately.

If you haven’t planned for data in your machine and process control designs, you had best begin.The race for improved operations performance is on now.

We talk often of “edge” in the world of Internet of Things or Industrial Internet of Things. The edge has many definitions, but it can be defined as any place outside a data center. PLCs, for example, not only perform logic control, but they also aggregate data from perhaps thousands of sensors. SCADA devices and industrial computers also collect and channel data from a few to many sensors and data sources.

Business operations managers are hungry for this data to feed their information systems that in turn fuel their business decisions. Data in context is information. Information correctly presented to decision makers leads to better, faster decisions—and a competitive edge.

This search for competitive edge has moved me from an emphasis on control and automation (something we still need to do well) to Industrial Internet of Things. The IIot is taken by many as a similar strategy to Industrie 4.0 or Smart Manufacturing or whatever different countries call their strategies. This means I’m looking at a new generation of edge computing, enhance networking standards, human-centered design for mobile visualization of data, and even Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). These are not far-out technologies any longer. They are here and applications are growing.

Neri talked about the future as edge-centric, cloud-enabled, data-driven. He said the edge is where the action is, where the data is created. HPE is going to invest $4 billion in the intelligent edge over the next 4 years.

The company announced a new edge computing device with enterprise grade computing power (far beyond a PC) plus up to 48TB (yes that’s Tera not Giga) of memory. Oh, and it also comes in an environmentally hardened package. The CTO of Murphy Oil talked of using these on off-shore oil rigs.

Texmark Chemicals is a Houston, Texas based petrochemical refiner. I had several opportunities to talk with them about their IoT projects. They orchestrated an ecosystem of 12 suppliers initially to instrument critical pumps in their process in order to achieve predictive maintenance. This potentially saves the company millions of dollars by avoiding catastrophic failure. (Note: I previously wrote about the Texmark use case here–and expect more to come.)

Back to the announcement from HPE about the new edge product—a family of edge-to-cloud solutions enabled by HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems to help organizations simplify their hybrid IT environment. By running the same enterprise applications at the edge, in data centers and in the cloud, the solutions allow organizations to more efficiently capitalize on the vast amounts of data created in remote and distributed locations like factories, oil rigs or energy grids.

(Dr. Tom Bradicich wrote a blog post you can find here.)

HPE’s new edge-to-cloud solutions operate unmodified enterprise software from partners Citrix, GE Digital, Microsoft, PTC, SAP and SparkCognition, both on HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems – rugged, compact systems delivering immediate insight from data at the edge – and on data center and cloud platforms. This capability enables customers to harness the value of the data generated at the edge to increase operational efficiency, create new customer experiences and introduce new revenue streams. At the same time, edge-to-cloud solutions enabled by HPE Edgeline simplify the management of the hybrid IT environment, as the same application and management software can be used from edge to cloud.

“The edge is increasingly becoming a centerpiece of the digital enterprise where things and people generate and act on massive amounts of data,” said Dr. Tom Bradicich, Vice President and General Manager, IoT and Converged Edge Systems, HPE. “Our edge-to-cloud solutions help bring enterprise-class IT capabilities from the data center to the edge. This reduces software and IT administration costs, while accelerating insight and control across the organization and supply chain.”

HPE also announced the HPE Edgeline Extended Storage Adapter option kit, adding up to 48 terabytes of software-defined storage to HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems. This enhancement enables storage-intensive use cases like artificial intelligence (AI), video analytics or databases at the edge, while leveraging industry-standard storage management tools such as Microsoft Storage Spaces, HPE StoreVirtual VSA, and VMware vSAN.

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