There are many ways to characterize edge computing. But boring is not one of them.
I believe we are at an inflection point where edge computing technologies will impact every aspect of our business and personal lives. We know that edge computing is not new. At Dell Technologies, we have been helping customers be successful at the edge for over 20 years. In fact, over 81 percent of Fortune 100 companies use Dell for their edge solutions.¹ In countless conversations with customers, we have witnessed an acceleration of edge deployments and the increased challenges associated with them. To maximize the vast potential of the edge and address these challenges, enterprises will need to get their edge together. This is where Project Frontier comes into play.
What’s the Hype All About?
The acceleration of innovation in applications, technology and data has created a perfect storm.
The reduced costs of sensors, compute and storage have enabled massive growth in data and new types of data. Concurrently, advancements in AI/ML, small form-factor computing, low-latency 5G networking and software-defined “everything” helps us capture, curate and analyze data at the edge and act faster than ever. In addition, multicloud maturity enables tremendous flexibility and scalability. When you add those capabilities to organizational needs for improved productivity on the one hand and to differentiate on the other, it all comes together.
Unique Challenges at the Edge
Unlike traditional IT infrastructure, the business requirements at the edge are varied and constrained due to the distributed nature of the edge. Thus, the requirements are fundamentally different in scale and scope from traditional data centers or the cloud.
The diversity of hardware, levels of ruggedization, constrained spaces and environmental conditions such as extreme temperature ranges and harsh environments, to name a few, create the antithesis of the control you have in a data center. Hardware is connected to critical machinery and supports the Operational Technology workloads and diverse protocols, which increases the complexity of operations. Further, edge infrastructure is typically distributed across many sites and geographically dispersed, which leads to complexity in connectivity, maintenance and support. Compounding these challenges is the fact that qualified IT is not usually present.
With enterprises organically adding edge solutions as use cases present themselves, we have seen a proliferation of solution silos at the edge. This siloed approach creates management complexity, making it almost impossible to achieve economies of scale. Critical concerns over secure operations are exacerbated by the distributed, heterogeneous nature of the edge and increased attack surface for malicious actors. As a result, a breach can have impacts ranging from competitiveness, profitability and human safety.
Require Fresh Approaches to Solving Them
Our discussions with customers have led us to understand that the challenges faced even among diverse industries and businesses are incredibly consistent and that we are well positioned to help them overcome those challenges. To do that, we must re-imagine edge operations within the unique set of constraints at the edge and design around them.
Imagine a solution that works without skilled IT onsite. One that assumes zero trust and could work with limited or no connectivity. A solution with the flexibility to start small with the capability to grow to a massive scale. A solution that embraces multicloud applications running at the edge, enabling access to Dell’s edge ecosystem and partners so we could innovate together.
Introducing Project Frontier, an Edge Operations Software Platform
Today we are proud to announce Project Frontier, our initiative to deliver an edge operations software platform with the goal of unifying edge operations across infrastructure and applications across any industry. Project Frontier is a fresh approach. It thoroughly addresses the unique, complex nature of the edge by re-imagining a better way to do edge operations.
With Project Frontier, customers can:
- Simplify their edge operations at scale
- Optimize their edge investments
- Secure their edge estate with zero trust security
Project Frontier helps customers by delivering an Edge Secure Environment with the ability to orchestrate applications and manage infrastructure at scale.
The Edge Secure Environment is unique because we’re able to provide a secure and scalable operating environment to run application workloads at the edge. Built on existing, qualified Dell edge hardware ranging from gateways to commercial PCs to servers that are optimized for the platform, you can consolidate your applications by hosting virtual machines (VMs) and containers right at the edge.
Dell is one of the only companies that can ensure a secure supply chain that employs tamper detection to immutable hardware roots of trust and built with cyber-resilient security. Project Frontier’s infrastructure management manages all the devices on the customer’s edge estate remotely, on-premises or in a private cloud and throughout their entire lifecycle. And the “magic” happens in the application orchestration, which can deploy home-grown or off-the-shelf software applications to the edge, data center and cloud using industry-standard templates to define blueprints.
Project Frontier can also be integrated by OEM customers for securing and managing their end-customers’ existing and new platforms while leveraging new offers like the new rugged PowerEdge XR400 server.
Edge and Project Frontier
Edge computing is a strategic initiative that businesses across almost every industry can use to gain a competitive advantage. Project Frontier will deliver a horizontal edge operations software platform, developed to help customers achieve their goals to simplify operations, optimize edge investments and secure the edge.
I sincerely believe edge computing represents the future of enterprise technology. Our re-imagined approach to edge operations will unleash the innovations at the edge that enterprises have been striving to deploy. I am very excited about how we at Dell Technologies can make a positive impact in this new frontier.
Please visit the Project Frontier page for more details on how enterprises can get their edge together.
1 Dell Internal Research 2022