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Dell Introduces Hardware and Software for Difficult Edge Environments

The compact server, micro data center, analytics solution, and management tool unveiled today are designed for use in locations with space, bandwidth, and other constraints not normally found in traditional data centers. By Rich Freeman

Dell Technologies has unveiled a collection of edge computing products intended to bring greater compute, networking, and storage resources to remote, often harsh locations with space, bandwidth, and other constraints not normally found in traditional data centers.

The new offerings, which include an edge server, a pre-integrated micro data center, and software for managing edge hardware and analyzing edge data, are designed to help organizations deliver “real-time digital experiences” that require data center-grade infrastructure in settings with often harsh operating conditions and no local IT staff.

Scheduled to ship in the second quarter of the year, the Dell EMC PowerEdge XE2420 is a 2U, 600mm “short-depth” server with dual sockets that can accommodate up to 92TB of storage. The product can handle operating temperatures ranging from 5° to 40° C, and comes with an optional filtered bezel for use in dusty locations. Front-accessible I/O and power components, Dell says, make the device easier for field service personnel to support.

The new Dell EMC Modular Data Center Micro 415, meanwhile, packs a complete infrastructure stack into a hardened container roughly the size of a refrigerator. Set to reach market in the second half of the year, the unit comes with locking doors and optional smoke detection and fire suppression features, as well as a temperature-resistant enclosure. “We’re operating these north of the Arctic Circle [and] in the desert,” says Matt Baker, senior vice president of Dell EMC strategy and planning. “They’re very popular with environments like oil fields.”

A new edition of the Dell Remote Access Controller, called iDRAC 9 Datacenter and available now, is designed to enable zero-touch configuration and updating over the internet. Streaming telemetry collected by the system and predictive analytics functionality, Dell says, can help companies maintain uptime and optimal performance on unattended systems. Remote thermal management capabilities can help them limit cooling costs.

Security features in the new software include two-factor authentication; centralized key management; automated SSL certificate deployment and renewals; and real-time BIOS scanning for malicious firmware. 

The Dell EMC Streaming Data Platform, also available immediately, is designed to streamline the creation of edge analytics applications. “This is a solution that’s designed to intake real-time streaming data, process that data, analyze that data, and return a real-time inference result,” Baker says. Manufacturers, he continues, have already used the system to study factory floor video for anomalies in their production processes. 

Dell’s latest edge products arrive as businesses are increasingly collecting, utilizing, and storing data at locations closer to the point of creation or need. In fact, by 2022 fully 75% of enterprise information will be generated and processed outside of traditional data centers or cloud environments, versus less than 10% today, according to Gartner. Much of that information, Dell adds, will be unstructured, time-sensitive, and short-lived. 

“There’s a lot of ephemeral data,” Baker observes. Despite those unique requirements, he continues, edge-native technologies must also integrate seamlessly with their more conventional counterparts.

“Edge doesn’t exist unto its own. Edge is a part of a broader environment, edge to core to cloud,” Baker says.

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