The Edge is More than a Place

Edge is going through a sea change today. Evolving technology ecosystems and new wave of applications in computer vision, Edge analytics, telco virtual radio access networks and autonomous vehicles require real time analytics. IT work at home and data privacy regulations are all driving the new paradigm. The outcome of these changes is an explosion of data produced outside the cloud and core data center. This data has two requirements: 1) a powerful compute capability to process it, and 2) real-time systems with very low latency that will provide insights and summarize the massive wave of data near the source. Addressing privacy and security are also key considerations in the evolution of Edge computing.

But first, let’s take a step back. Edge technology has a long history. In 1998, I worked in the Telecommunications industry and was challenged to bring broadband communications to all of our customers’ businesses and residences in the southeastern United States. Our small team designed an architecture and platform to support high density electronics and deployed them into non-traditional Edge environments. We had to consider the level of networking and computation and the optimal architectural and physical placement, determine how to build a software stack and systems to support the deployment. We also had to create a new operational model. Many things had to be considered that were not anticipated at the start of this deployment.

Where is the Edge?

Edge as a place is best defined as where it is not. Edge is the deployment of integrated information and communications technology outside of the core data center and cloud. It is also not in the devices that leverage edge capabilities for operations and support. This location is very large space, everywhere exclusive of devices and cloud/core data centers. Indeed I call this the real world!  Therefore it is important to be able to support a different set of form factors and have a broad set of horizontal capabilities to support different workloads in the most effective manner.

What is the Edge?

The Edge is a collection of hardware and software. It is important that you design a horizontal set of infrastructure capabilities that can support multiple personas of applications but have an aim point that is not all inclusive. Selection of processor architecture, accelerator architecture, flexible storage options and virtualization technique are very important to maximize the number of directly supported workloads. The choice of M&O and Application/Services management capability is critical to allow you to extend support from Core/Cloud to allow remote and orchestrated execution of applications. All of this needs to be sized into an enclosure and packaging that can support the chosen environment (in building colocation, outside enclosure, modular data center, and so forth).

How is the Edge Architected?

The Edge “how” is often overlooked and obscured with terms like zero touch provisioning. Managing Edge platforms requires a set of services that is rooted in software management of the platform. In order to manage the platform effectively, you must have a robust remote monitoring capability. You need the flexibility to deploy high cost components (accelerators on a demand basis) and many other capabilities that we have considered at Dell. Importantly, you need an operational model that considers the inherent challenges of operating a distributed infrastructure in the real world. Standalone operation and different levels of fault tolerance on the communication links are critical.

Dell is a leader in the new Edge. We have defined this new Edge model that includes application management, services management, workload management & orchestration, virtualization, compute infrastructure, storage infrastructure, networking infrastructure, security & data protection, physical systems such as modular data center enclosures & systems and gateways/devices. Dell is uniquely positioned to provide the true “full stack” set of capabilities.

Dell Technologies has the most comprehensive portfolio across the Edge ecosystem and ability to support a large number of Edge verticals. Our portfolio supports the Edge with its industry leading server and gateway products, our hardened small form factor computer solutions, storage capabilities, our security solutions our physical enclosure systems, and our Dell Technologies Cloud extended to the Edge with VMware.

The key to success at the Edge is to design a platform that can meet the high percentage of common horizontal requirements yet be cost effective and have a software management framework that allows extensibility. Dell Technologies is leading this technology with innovation of hardware and solutions at the Edge. Set up a meeting with us today so we can help you #FindYourEdge.

About the Author: Jeff White

Jeff is the Industry CTO of Dell Technologies of the Automotive sector, specifically in the area of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and overall Edge Technology strategy lead. Jeff is responsible for leading the team that is developing the overall Dell Technologies technology strategy development, architectural direction and product requirements for the Intelligent Connected Vehicle platform. He also is the Chairman of the Dell Automotive Design Authority Council responsible for the technical solution design. In his role as Edge Technology Lead he is driving the development of a Dell Technology wide Edge platform including the physical edge systems, heterogenous compute, memory/storage, environment, security, data management, control plane stack and automation/orchestration. Previously, Jeff has held senior roles at an early stage artificial intelligence/machine reasoning based process automation technology provider and Elefante Group a stratospheric wireless communications platform as CTO. He also held senior positions at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent where he led technology initiatives, solutions development, business development and services delivery. Earlier in his career White served in leadership roles at BellSouth and Cingular Wireless (now AT&T). At Cingular, he led the National Transport Infrastructure Engineering with responsibility for national transport, VoIP & IMS engineering. At BellSouth (now AT&T) he led the Broadband Internet Operations & Support organization which included broadband access tier two technical support, customer networking equipment business, broadband OSS & end-to-end process. White holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Southern Polytechnic University. He also served as Chairman of the Tech Titans Technology Association of North Texas representing over 300 Technology companies in the greater North Texas community. He also served on the North Texas Regional committee of the Texas Emerging Technology fund under Governor Rick Perry.