Dell Research

Dell Research

Innovation at Dell  Dell Research

Capitalizing on Dell’s 30-year history of driving practical, real-world innovation, Dell Research delivers long-range, disruptive, pan-Dell research and development to inform and influence Dell’s technology strategy. Dell Research complements the company’s innovative research and development by collaborating across Dell’s technical community to create holistic, organic solutions focused on customer needs, with a two-, five- and 10-year outlook.

By implementing a hybrid innovation strategy, Dell Research augments its organic research with an extended external community, including university alliances, to leverage that wealth of knowledge for the benefit of Dell’s customers. With a team of industry and technical experts, Dell Research is focused on multiple R&D projects within five major technology areas:

  • Data and data insights
  • Internet of Things
  • Mobility and next generation UX
  • Next-generation infrastructure and cloud
  • Security

Dell Research is also charged with creating the annual Dell Technology Outlook, Dell’s point of view about key, disruptive technology trends and inflection points, which have potential to affect businesses in a significant way. The Dell Technology Outlook informs and drives the Dell Research project selection, influences Dell strategy, and includes specific technology forecasts and advice to customers, partners and the community at large.

dataData and data insights

Data and Data Insights

Dell Research’s database research is aimed at understanding the implications of flash memory and next-generation Non-Volatile memory technologies on database systems. Dell Research believes that “one size no longer fits all” when it comes to database systems, and is conducting research to understand what database capability will be important for the emerging world of Internet of Things.

Dell Research’s work in data insights is driven by the following trends:

  • The world is moving from simple analytics (tell me how well my stores did last month) to advanced analytics (what will the performance be next quarter and what should I do about it);
  • Much of the advanced analytics will be provided in the cloud; and
  • Data scientists are going to be in short supply for the near future.

Advanced analytics includes predictive analytics (tell me what will happen) and prescriptive analytics (tell me what I should do about it). Dell Research will focus on prescriptive analytics with particular focus on the healthcare industry. The team will also investigate how to simplify and democratize the availability of advanced analytics technology to make it easier for a non-scientist to consume, as well as provide cloud-based insight services.


Project: Prescriptive analytics for healthcare

Dell Research will work with leading healthcare providers to explore how to advance healthcare data analytics to address such issues as real-time clinical decision support, costs of patient complexities, re-admission rates, next-generation population health, and allocation of resources and clinics.
internet of thingsInternet of Things

Internet of Things

A number of technological forces are combining to create a revolution at the intersection of computer control and computer networking. This revolution is commonly called the "Internet of Things" and is, essentially, the product of powerful technology developed for Smart Phones, and the growing, almost ubiquitous, penetration of the Internet. The result is the development of inexpensive machine-to-machine communications unconstrained by human interaction. This is being leveraged to extend computation into application areas that were previously technically unfeasible, or economically unattractive.

The Internet of Things is creating new areas of research into distributed architectures, data analytics, machine control, network protocols, security, cloud computing, and many other areas of computer science.


Project: Internet of Things Architectures

Various estimates predict that by the year 2020, there will be between 20 and 200 billion Internet-connected devices. A large proportion of these devices will be built using repurposed technology developed for Smart Phones, including, and, in particular, the CPUs. The IOT will also likely see the creation of a large number of edge servers to perform tasks such as analytics. For example, a casino with 3000 video cameras will likely perform video analytics at an edge server in the casino, since it cannot afford to send all of this data into a cloud data center – both for bandwidth and latency reasons. There are, therefore, at least 3 tiers of processing available in an IOT – the CPUs in the edge devices, the edge servers, and the traditional servers in a cloud data center. One interesting research problem is how to distribute the work across these three tiers, including trying to leverage the potentially under-utilized processors at the edge devices. A second research problem is how to develop software in a way that it can run in any of the three tiers of an IOT. A third research problem is how to manage the huge number of devices and systems across these three tiers in a seamless way.
mobilityMobility and next-generation UX

Mobility and Next-Generation UX

With the proliferation of mobile devices and the growing reliance on them for both business and personal use, innovative technologies that connect, secure and provide reliability in this realm is a prime focus for Dell Research. Given that reliance, the team is also investigating novel ways to interact with computing devices, and how they may be evolved to sense human emotions.


Project: Seamless mobile computing

Seamless mobility is a critical technology that can help Dell manage the important network connection between the mobile device and an enterprise or cloud infrastructure. Today, the network being used to connect a mobile device to the cloud or to an enterprise application in the data center is visible to the user. Transitioning from cellular connections to WiFi requires explicit action on the part of the user. Security is also a function of the mobile user’s location (at home, in an internet café, inside the firewall of an enterprise, and so on).

In this project, Dell Research is investigating revolutionary technologies that provide seamless mobility to users wherever they are, whatever devices they are using (enterprise issued or BYOD), and whatever network they are using. The aim is to create seamless connections to the enterprise, always using the best available choice at any time (whether cellular, WiFi or a combination of multiple cellular connections) based on user specified policies and preferences, and providing consistent security independent of location.
cloudNext-generation infrastructure and cloud

Next-Gen Infrastructure and CloudDell Research believes that next-generation data center infrastructure will be both software-defined and software-based. In other words, most data center functions can be achieved by software running on standard servers, without the need for specialized hardware appliances.

We also believe that next-generation Non-Volatile memory technologies will have a transformational effect on the data center, enabling a new generation of applications such as real-time analytics. Our research will explore these

new memory technologies, as well as how they will impact applications.

In the area of clouds, we see the rise of specialized clouds focused on the needs of specific industry verticals, such as Healthcare and Telco. Such specialized clouds will require a next-generation of Cloud technology to be developed. Dell Research will focus on the development of this next generation of cloud technology.

In a software-defined data center (SDDC), software is used to rapidly provision servers, storage and networking on behalf of applications. Dell Research has proposed a new paradigm it is calling the software-based data center (SBDC), which goes beyond what the industry calls SDDC. In a SDDC, the infrastructure being provisioned consists of at least three different types of hardware – servers, storage and networking. However, in an SBDC, there are only servers – storage and networking ultimately become software running on servers. Software-defined storage and software-defined networks will evolve to software-based storage and software-based networks, and our goal is to prepare Dell to best serve customers through this transition.


Project: High-velocity cloud

Cloud computing is fundamentally changing how we use technology to solve problems for customers. Today’s cloud computing technology is based on innovations originally developed for web applications. With the high-velocity cloud project, Dell Research aims to develop a new cloud computing foundation that can support real-time, network-centric applications, hard real-time analytical data processing, and agile operational and business services. High-velocity cloud differs from traditional cloud in being able to support next-generation applications that have high-speed packet processing needs, and in being able to support applications with rapidly changing infrastructure needs.

One of the major applications of high-velocity cloud technology is in the telco industry. Service providers need to be more cost-effective and agile to deploy and manage today’s complex Telco networks and tomorrow’s Internet of Things networks. We believe that software-based networking and software-based data centers will provide the solution. The world’s telecommunications, mobile, and cable industries rely on vertically integrated suppliers for their technology needs today. The result is slow adoption of new innovations and capabilities, lack of competition, and inflexible service deployments. Dell Research’s work in high-velocity cloud and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) positions Dell at the forefront of this industry transformation where general purpose computing infrastructure and software will replace many of the custom-made hardware boxes.


Security threats are ever-evolving, and security responses have traditionally responded to new threats as they have evolved. It is widely acknowledged that for security measures to be effective, they must develop defenses that are more robust to previously unknown attacks and attack strategies.

Dell Research is developing research in the area of perceptive security systems to determine when there is a possible danger or risk, much like humans perceive and evaluate risk. For example, when walking by a dark 

alley and glimpsing a shadowy figure, a person will quickly perceive a number of things to help guide one’s reactions: if the shadowy figure is that of a person or something else, the gender, what the figure appears to be doing, the size of the shadowy figure, if there are other people nearby, time of day, and so on. Based on these perceptions, a person very quickly makes a judgment call regarding the perceived risk of the current situation, and will react appropriately (such as running away, or just casually continuing their stroll). Dell Research aims to develop software systems that replicate this human perception in order to improve security response.

Dell is pursuing several discrete research projects to interact to provide perceptive security. These initiatives will be applied at two different levels: at the individual level (e.g., via a tablet, phone, laptop, wearable device, website, app) and at the organizational level (as the threat center of the future). These projects range from providing new visualizations and interfaces, new behavioral analytics, the gathering of security-related intelligence, risk determination, and the automatic provisioning of appropriate security controls.


Project: Automatic security classification

The goal of this project is to automatically determine the security controls that should be placed on a document based on a combination of its content and metadata. At present, security tends to be based on manual tagging, or on the location of a file, and by extension, someone who has access to that file location via operating system and role-based security. In contrast, the team aims to develop a system that determines the sensitivity of a document based on information such as who created the file and who has access. As an example, an email sent by the CEO of a company to a large number of employees is likely less sensitive than an email sent by the CEO to the CFO. Yet, while metadata can provide clues as to the sensitivity of a document, it is not sufficient. We therefore combine metadata with topic analysis, using the topic of the document – and knowledge about the sensitivity of other documents on similar topics – to help determine the perceived sensitivity of this specific document. As an example, if the CEO sends an email to the CFO discussing financial information, this is likely information that would be considered harmful to the company if publicly disclosed, and therefore requires a commensurate level of security controls. In contrast, if the CEO sends an email to the CFO suggesting that they meet for lunch, then this information is likely not sensitive and does not need additional security measures.

Research & Reports

Innovation Approach