Edge Executive Insight – Aaron Chaisson, Dell Technologies
Innovation at the Enterprise Edge
Executive Interview with Aaron Chaisson
Vice President, Edge and Telecom Marketing, 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.
Do you see signs that edge computing has moved beyond hype?
Absolutely. We’re working with customers across every major industry and the public sector to generate value at their edge, wherever that may be. They are ultimately looking to optimize and drive value by accelerating digital transformation in their stores, factories, fields, hospitals, supply chains, and so on, to be ready for what comes next. And the innovators aren’t just the largest enterprises with the deepest pockets. Innovators at the edge come in every shape and size, from all over the globe. Return on investment is the common denominator.
To quantify what’s unfolding, we sponsored global research with 4,300 respondents in medium and large enterprises, and 75% said that in the next 12 months they would have a solid edge strategy that will future-proof their organization. Sixty-nine percent said they were already investing in edge in varying degrees. In the same study, respondents said that digital businesses predictively spot new opportunities and operate in real time.[i] That’s what the edge is all about. And we’re grateful and humbled to see customer after customer turn to us to help them become more digital with the help of edge computing and 5G networks.
What are some real-world examples of edge computing you’re seeing?
Examples are emerging in so many places. Predictive maintenance to improve uptime in manufacturing; crop monitoring and treatment to drastically reduce water requirements, improve yields and use good bugs to reduce pests; improved quality and control in the energy sector; loss prevention in retail; augmented and virtual reality to aid in surgery.
Take Duos Technologies Group as an example. They turned the manual process of inspecting trains for maintenance and safety concerns into a win for their company and for railway operators, shippers and consumers. The old method of manual inspections required trains to idle, affecting traffic across the continent and costing millions of dollars annually. Now, trains roll without stopping through Duos’ intelligent inspection portals, where images and vibration, laser and sensor readings are captured for a 360-degree automated inspection.
In the eight minutes needed to manually inspect one rail car, Duos’ portal can inspect 120 cars. Inspection results reach traditional inspection points by the time the train arrives, and repairs can begin at once.[ii]
You’ve just described an implementation in which the edge is a self-contained environment. Are you seeing examples in which edge and cloud work together in real time or near real time?
A great example that comes to mind is McLaren Racing. Their Formula 1 team has a Dell EMC micro-modular data center that holds two PowerEdge Servers that they take from track to track. Their cars have almost 300 sensors and can stream as many as 100,000 data points per second. They’re capturing and analyzing data at the edge to respond to events and safety issues and make split-second decisions for real-time performance optimization and trackside response. Some of that streaming data is analyzed at the track to inform the pit crew, and other data is routed to the McLaren Technology Center’s private cloud for added analysis and insights by their performance experts. By using both real time analysis at the edge and near real time analysis in their cloud, McLaren is able to deliver a robust data-driven strategy that can adapt to the constant changes of an F1 event as it unfolds.[iii]
I’m guessing that getting to these outcomes is not all smooth sailing. It never is with newer technologies. What are the biggest challenges that organizations are concerned about?
Security is the number one concern in survey after survey about edge implementations. As in every environment, enterprises are worried about losing data and disrupting operations because of a cyber or physical attack.
Another challenge is managing and analyzing the volume and types of data flowing in from cameras, sensors, and other sources at the edge in an infrastructure footprint that works within environmental constraints. To get response times in just a few milliseconds, you need low-latency connectivity and edge infrastructure that supports high performance and throughput sitting close to your data sources.
A third is complexity caused by sprawl and silos of data and infrastructure. Organizations want to share data across edge and hybrid cloud environments. And they worry about how they will manage infrastructure in locations where they don’t have IT staff or about tying up IT staff to separately manage new edge infrastructure. These are all valid concerns that we routinely resolve for customers.
We hear a lot that security is a concern. How is security at the edge different from security in other environments?
A lot of the considerations are the same as in centralized environments, but they’re elevated because distributed architectures naturally increase the attack surface. Many more devices from various suppliers are connected to the enterprise network; the edge is connected to your data center and hybrid clouds; and the IT infrastructure lives outside the physical security of a central data center. The environment is complex, and visibility and control in distributed environments is more challenging.
Enterprises need confidence in a secure supply chain and infrastructure that can be verified through capabilities such as silicon-based security and cryptographic hardware root of trust. They need to easily deploy and update trusted systems with intrinsic capabilities that automate detection and protection, as well as recovery of systems, applications and data from cyberattacks.
They need to lock down access to ports and to physical infrastructure and protect data on drives from physical and cyber threats. They need to protect data in-flight to other locations, including hybrid cloud environments. And they should evaluate the need for storage and backup, protection and recovery of data and applications at the edge in case of a security breach. These are all familiar concepts, and they are protections we provide through our portfolio.
5G will obviously be a huge component of many emerging edge use cases. How do enterprises decide whether to use public 5G services or to implement their own 5G network?
5G will catalyze new artificial intelligence powered use cases that stretch our imaginations: use cases that deliver outcomes in areas such as automation, productivity, safety, security and sustainability. Most enterprises won’t choose between public and private 5G networks as an absolute. They’ll use a combination of private and public wireless networks based on service levels needed for their use cases.
Private 5G is a likely choice for deployment in distributed enterprise environments to support mission-critical operations, enterprise automation and other operations tasks, such as asset management and security. Public 5G will be the choice for mobile operations or operations far away from a location where private 5G infrastructure is deployed, such as transportation logistics use cases, autonomous vehicles, retail and other use cases involving personal devices. Finally, there are those who would use logical private 5G networks segmented and running on top of the public 5G network, leveraging private wireless and secure network slices to guarantee performance and connectivity. These could include ambulatory and other emergency services that require both the mobility enabled by the public 5G network and guaranteed service levels.
You talked earlier about consolidation, but edge computing runs in a distributed environment. Can you rationalize that for me?
Absolutely. As enterprises have explored new use cases at the edge over the past few years, often they’ve implemented a pilot or a proof of concept engineered to address an individual use case. Adding more of these single-use solution stacks from different providers leads to silos of data, management requirements and operational processes that result in unnecessary costs, inefficiency and security risk. We help customers consolidate these silos to reduce their infrastructure footprint and operational overhead with a consistent experience across hybrid cloud and edge environments.
With intrinsic security, insights where customers need them, and consolidation of operations, data and infrastructure, Dell Technologies helps to simplify the edge so our customers can focus on innovation to improve business outcomes.
What are you looking forward to most about your involvement in Edge Computing World?
I’m looking forward to hearing about attendees’ progress and challenges at the edge and sharing what we’ve learned working over the years with customers on their edge solutions. We have some exciting sessions at the upcoming ECW. One of the keynote presentations will be anchored by Gil Shneorson, our Senior Vice-President of Edge Solutions. We’ll also have a session on Smart Cities, presented by Amit Midha, President, Global Digital Cities, and a session in the manufacturing track highlighting a new and innovative edge solution from Dell Technologies. We hope to contribute to making ECW a tremendous success for attendees by helping them learn more about unlocking the potential of edge computing.
Thanks Aaron – Looking forward to hearing more from Dell at the event !