Dell Technologies today set its sights on becoming a major edge computing player with the launch of a Dell EMC PowerEdge XE2420 server optimized for space-constrained environments and a smaller version of a pre-integrated Dell EMC Modular Data Center Micro 415 (MDC Micro) ruggedized platform.
In addition, Dell launched the Dell EMC Streaming Data Platform, a streaming analytics platform based on open source Kafka software. Dell is using Kafka also to provide an embedded management capability known as the Dell Remote Access Controller (iDRAC 9 Datacenter) for its edge computing platforms.
Matt Baker, senior vice president for Dell EMC strategy and planning, said edge computing applications require a different approach to IT infrastructure because data is being processed and analyzed in real-time. Dell expects that eventually 75% of all data will be created and processed outside of a data center, he said.
A primary driver of that transition will be the rise of wireless 5G networks, which will make it feasible to build and deploy real-time applications on edge computing platforms.
Dell, of course, is making a case for distributed IT environment made up of its platform, contending will be easier for IT organizations to deploy and manage.
The iDRAC 9 Datacenter platform, for example, provides a remote deployment capability that Dell claims can reduce administrator-attended time by up to 99.1% per server after initial setup. The streaming analytics capability, meanwhile, makes it possible to discover trends, fine-tune operations and create predictive analytics to help ensure peak performance and reduce downtime. Dell has also made available an automated certificate enablement tool to enable zero-touch security at the edge and in central locations.
All told, Dell claims to be collecting nearly 2.9 million data points per server that can be surfaced in as many as 20 different types of reports.
Baker said Dell has no plans to extend its data streaming analytics capabilities to other platforms, so IT teams will have to decide to what degree they want to standardize on Dell infrastructure versus setting up a streaming analytics platform of their own that is capable of supporting edge computing platforms from multiple vendors.
Whatever the approach, the one thing that is certain is the way applications historically have been built and deployed is fundamentally changing. Rather than relying primarily on batch-oriented applications that often require large amounts of data to be transferred across networks to either a data center or public cloud, a lot more data is going to be processed at the edge because of application latency requirements. Edge computing applications, for example, will need to process analytics in near real-time to optimize a process or end user experience in milliseconds.
Naturally, that shift will have profound implications for the management of IT going forward as IT environments become even more distributed than they are today. In fact, the real issue isn’t so much how computing platforms will be deployed at the edge so much as it is how they will be managed, at a time when most IT organizations are already short-staffed.