Dell realizes that the future of artificial intelligence is highly distributed, with smaller computers on robots, sensors, cars and other devices providing information to successfully train larger learning models residing in larger data centers.
The idea of edge computing – which is closely tied to the Internet of Things – isn’t exactly new, but Dell is expanding its product portfolio to better control data from remote devices. The company’s Project Frontier, announced this week, is a software platform that allows customers to more easily deploy and manage edge devices remotely.
The software, which will be widely available in 2023, is part of Dell’s broader multicloud strategy, which relies heavily on Project Apex, which is a service for managing IT infrastructure – including compute resources, software and hardware – in remote areas.
“Multicloud is really how we aggregate many clouds to start behaving as a single system,” Jeff Clarke, vice president and co-chief operating officer of Dell, said at a press conference. Wednesday.
Project Frontier enables the integration of smaller devices, such as machines or robots in factories, into a multicloud system. Clarke provided another example of CCTV equipment that can be easily plugged in and managed through the cloud service, with data feeding into larger learning models.
“We’re doing this now through the ability of this abstract software platform to facilitate the secure deployment and management of large-scale edge infrastructure,” Clarke said.
Cloud services were originally concentrated in mega data centers, but are now expanding geographically to include edge devices. This change comes as more and more data is collected from peripheral devices and communication networks go wireless and become faster and wider.
Data travels longer distances, and there are more checkpoints with IT resources analyzing raw data to ensure that only relevant information is sent back to data centers. For example, artificial intelligence chips are placed in cell towers to analyze incoming data.
“Because more things are being done at the edge now than before, and because there’s a proliferation of devices, the scale is much bigger. You have to rethink how you do the same thing,” said Gil Shneorson, senior vice president of Dell’s Infrastructure Solutions Group Edge Portfolio, during a product briefing.
Project Frontier helps clouds and systems behave as a single pool, and edge devices can be easily connected to the stack.
The environment includes tightly integrated software, hardware and remote infrastructure management. The software stack is based on Kubernetes to spin up and manage virtual machines, and adds a tamper-proof layer to protect edge devices.
Depending on the customer’s needs and budget, the service will be delivered as an on-premises deployment in their own data center or cloud properties, with application orchestration tying it all together, Shneorson said.
Dell’s cloud competitors, including the three major cloud providers Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, already offer cutting-edge services. Telecom providers, who own the large communications networks, will also be key in helping cloud providers deliver edge services. Google has already partnered with Verizon and AT&T on Distributed Cloud Edge, while AWS has also partnered with carriers on edge computing and IoT services.
Dell did not comment on which third-party devices it qualified for its cutting-edge computing platform. Instead, it qualified internal devices only.
“Dell’s entire hardware portfolio will be supported as part of our edge platform vision, starting with products such as PowerEdge XR4000 servers, Edge 5200 and 3200 gateways, and desktops. OptiPlex XE4, as well as the accelerators available on these platforms,” said a Dell spokesperson.
But Dell, as it has done with Apex and other cloud offerings, is ready to work with devices and software based on customer needs. The goal is to simplify edge operations for customers and provide greater levels of automation and remote management of devices and software in cloud environments. The company’s previewed Project Alpine will allow customers to bridge internal clouds with public clouds offered by companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Google.
Customers will also have the choice between IoT runtimes and software stacks.