Accelerating IoT: Dell and Other Leaders Create the Open Fog Consortium

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The following post is co-authored by Liam Quinn, Vice President and Senior Dell Fellow, Office of the CTO.

We’ve been deep in the trenches of working with customers to help enable IoT solutions in the past six months since we announced our new IoT division and gateway products. We are learning a great deal and one of the core lessons is pretty simple: we need to go faster. While the Internet of Things is fascinating and offers almost limitless opportunities to change the world, it is still an emerging set of technologies and projects can become highly customized and time-consuming very quickly. We are connecting things that have never been connected before and each industry, each process, each ‘thing’ comes with its own quirks. To help accelerate this time to deploy for our customers, Dell believes in standards and ‘better together’ approaches for our products.  

We saw a need to reduce the time needed to deliver end-to-end IoT solutions. This is why Dell has joined with ARM, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft and the Princeton University Edge Laboratory to form the Open Fog Consortium. Per today’s announcement, this consortium’s goal is “to accelerate the deployment of Fog technologies through the development of an open architecture, core technologies including the capabilities of distributed computing, networking, and storage as well as the leadership needed to realize the full potential of IoT.” It will “drive industry and academic leadership in fog computing architectures with whitepapers, testbeds and other deliverables that demonstrate best practices for interoperability and composability between cloud and edge architectures.”

Whether you call it ‘fog’ or ‘edge’ or ‘distributed computing’ – the idea of pushing computing closer to the end devices makes sense for many use cases. This is why we announced our new Dell Edge Gateway 5000 Series at Dell World last month. These systems are intelligent, industrial-grade devices that offer local analytics and other middleware to receive, aggregate, analyze and relay significant data to the cloud or datacenter for further analytics in a secure manner.

We see customers running pilots with our gateway devices as they work towards more sophisticated and comprehensive IoT solutions. We envision more solutions in which, as in the figure below, customers run some analytics at the edge to deliver quick feedback and control back to the end devices, while minimizing latency and consumption of costly network bandwidth. A smaller, but smarter, stream of data exits the gateway and can move forward to a cloud or data center environment where it can be merged with other data sources. In this enterprise scale environment, core analytics can be run to produce predictions, insights and other big data outcomes. 

We look forward to continuing the work with our partners in the Open Fog Consortium to better help our customers deliver on the promise of the Internet of Things.  Learn more at www.dell.com/iot and our LinkedIn site, and join the conversation at @DellOEM.

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