Edge Executive Interview – Aaron Chaisson, Dell Technologies
In the lead up to Edge Computing World, we’re taking some time to speak to key Executives from the leading companies supporting the show. Today we’re talking to Aaron Chaisson, Vice President, Edge and Telecom Marketing at Dell Technologies.
As an infrastructure player, where do you see Dell Technologies bringing unique value to the edge ecosystem?
Dell Technologies brings differentiated value to the edge ecosystem in 3 significant ways:
- We provide compelling solutions at the edge by taking a comprehensive systemic approach. The Dell Technologies Edge solutions, among other components, consists of robust edge-optimized hardware, state-of-art networking and a world-class software stack that supports cloud-native applications
- We provide an industry-leading, end-to-end global support and a robust supply chain to ensure minimal disruption to businesses
- We support a wide set of industry verticals through a diverse ecosystem of partners, ISVs and Systems Integrators.
For real practitioners though, edge computing, much like cloud computing, is not new. We have served customers at the edge for decades, and we understand their unique needs when designing and deploying there. Dell Technologies’ edge-optimized hardware can run under severe environmental constraints, such as temperature gradients, dust, moisture and physical shock. Dell Technologies deploys industry-leading, edge-optimized hardware – like PowerEdge servers, PowerScale storage, VxRail hyper-converged infrastructure – along with a world-class software stack with VMware and other partners. We have designed systems that support powerful accelerators to leverage AI and provide real-time insights. We also understand that once our customers have set up their edge computing systems, they need to manage them across multiple domains. By partnering with companies like VMware, we provide full lifecycle management on Day 2 operations, support Kubernetes and containers, cloud-native applications and connectors to enable seamless operations from the edge to the private and public cloud.
I think that the most interesting part of your question is the use of the word “ecosystem.” The term ecosystem implies dependency and balance across a wide variety of interconnected technologies, and in reality, the current edge ecosystem is fragmented. The new technologies at the edge – like data generation and consumption via IoT, robotics and AR/VR, real-time analytics driven by advances in AI/ML and the promise of high-speed connectivity with 5G – are all undergoing rapid innovation right now. This has led to a massive influx of technology vendors, both established and startups, that have created a diverse, albeit fragmented, landscape. We, at Dell Technologies, are committed to simplifying the chaos.
Dell Technologies is committed to democratizing IT and IoT. Our curated partner community and industry-leading, globally integrated supply chain enables us to anchor industry ecosystems as they mature, delivering greater value and lower cost at scale. Today, we are focused on delivering value to the new ecosystems emerging in the telecommunications and enterprise edge landscapes.
This is why it is important that I emphasize that Dell Technologies is far more than an infrastructure player. We believe that our deep experience at the edge, along with our products and services, help make Dell Technologies a clear leader in the edge ecosystem.
Based on Dell’s existing market experiences, which use cases have you seen driving the adoption of edge computing?
We define edge as the intersection of the physical and digital domains where data is generated, collected and processed to create new value. We do not consider computing at the edge a separate, discrete solution. Instead, we leverage the deep IT experience of designing and deploying private and public cloud environments to build capabilities at the edge, while reducing the complexity of managing data and application services across these domains. Given this unique approach, there are several industries – such as smart manufacturing, retail, telecommunications, connected mobility, finance, healthcare, etc. – that are rapidly adopting edge computing. And what is especially fascinating is that, while each of these verticals are unique in their own way, their technical needs at the edge for use cases are consistent.
At Dell Technologies, we take a consistent approach to designing, deploying and managing edge solutions across multiple domains. Computer vision and image analytics are a great example use case. Whether it is QA systems in smart manufacturing, imaging analysis in healthcare, loss prevention in retail or accident avoidance in transportation, the need for rapid insights on image analyses are consistent across applications. We have several similar use cases that can be applied across multiple verticals and, ultimately, our customers benefit from this standardized solution approach.
How has Covid affected the edge computing opportunity? Are there any use cases that you believe have been accelerated by the increasing digitization of business which we have witnessed during the pandemic?
Nearly every business has felt the impact of COVID-19 and there is no question it has either accelerated or kickstarted many digital transformations. For example, key trends such as remote working, zero touch management and operations, and mobility have all been emerging over the past couple of years. And today, these trends have seen a dramatic uptick in adoption. Who would have thought so many industries could run their business with almost their entire workforce at home? Who could have thought we would attend important conferences virtually? The sustained ability to collaborate and innovate virtually is a testament to the technical achievements of recent years.
One of the best use cases that illustrates this shift is in retail. Shopping has traditionally been a social activity. However, since the pandemic started, the most successful retailers shifted to an online model to complement their brick and mortar stores. Now there are systems in place to browse, select and order in a touchless manner. Even grocery stores are starting to employ these experiences in their checkout systems. Customers, who used to jostle in the aisles and bump their carts in the line can now have a safer, isolated shopping experience. An interesting byproduct to these new processes includes a more tightly coupled inventory and supply chain. Some retailers are updating their AI/ML systems to better predict customer orders since most shoppers are primarily working, and therefore cooking, from home. And given that checkouts are automated, there are now better monitoring and theft prevention mechanisms.
There are examples like this across every vertical and it will be interesting to see how this accelerated transformation will continue. Dell Technologies is working closely with our customers to help them navigate these dynamic conditions.
How do you see edge computing and distributed architectures evolving in the future?
William Gibson, the brilliant science fiction author, said: “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” This idea aptly describes edge computing today. We have seen some organizations, or their lines-of-business, test proofs of concepts on interesting edge use cases. However, the adoption of edge is uneven across the enterprise, limiting its overall potential. By 2025, according to Gartner, over 75% of enterprise data will be created or processed outside the data center. Businesses must figure out how to collect, collate, process and analyze this data effectively. The greater the shift towards the edge, the greater the opportunity enterprises have to extract and act upon real-time insights.
In 2019, IDC published a study anticipating an over 800% increase in applications at the edge by 2024. The progression to containerized and serverless application designs that can be rapidly developed, deployed and iterated against – via agile development practices and modern CI/CD pipeline delivery models – will enable computing’s center of gravity to shift from the enterprise core to the edge. Therefore, the infrastructure behind these designs must adapt from vertically integrated stacks to horizontally scalable distributed designs. The best designs no longer focus on resiliency and availability, but rather on programmability, configurability and end-to-end lifecycle management. This includes zero touch Day 2 operations, allowing you to manage, monitor and operate a large ecosystem of hardware and software systems across geographic locations. Done right, infrastructure should be a frictionless, if not transparent, set of services that free up OT and developers to focus on innovation. The future for edge is incredibly exciting and limited only by our imaginations.
What are you looking forward to most about your involvement in Edge Computing World Europe?
I am excited to see how organizations across every industry are innovating and creating a new, better world as we emerge from the pandemic. At Dell Technologies, we are passionate about helping organizations realize these aspirations and achieve their goals. Edge Computing World 2021 is the perfect time to help organizations put their visions into motion as this new year unfolds.
Thanks Aaron – Looking forward to hearing more from Dell at the event !