Dell Technologies recently hosted Dell World, its annual conference for customers, and there were quite a few edge announcements at the event. Among the more notable ones, the company detailed its push into new private cloud services, and use cases for its growing line of edge computing solutions.
Apex extends to Cloud Services
Like many vendors, Dell has been pushing hardware on demand (i.e., usage-based pricing) for a few years now, firstly as ‘Technology on Demand’ and now as ‘IT-as-a-service’ under the Apex banner.
Apex was originally a storage-as-a-service platform and it’s now being extended into cloud services. There are a couple of new iterations of Apex but the relevant one for edge is Apex Private Cloud. Apex Private Cloud consists of VMWare’s vSphere and vSAN running on Dell VxRail all delivered as a service.
VxRail is Dell’s HCI product. Hyperconverged infrastructure means combining compute, storage and networking in a single system, rather than running the functions on several separate units. ‘Everything in a box’ clearly makes sense at the edge and Dell is targeting Apex to manufacturers and other businesses with edge computing needs.
Edge in action: Railroad use case
Probably the most interesting session of the event was the use case involving rail freight, provided by Dell partner Duos Technologies. Duos specialize in bespoke technology deployments such as automating drawbridges. They are rolling out an edge inspection shed for freight trains, which can ingest video and analyze it as the train passes through. Rail cars are lit up with lights strong enough for a sports stadium through the shed; inside there are nine camera views taking images of the cars.
All data—roughly 1.3TB for a typical freight train—is analyzed locally using GPU cores and SSD storage. This bespoke micro-data center has to be highly redundant and resilient, given the remoteness of its locations and the variety of weather conditions across the continent. Given all that, the footprint is surprisingly small—only two 42U racks. For the freight companies, the benefits are compelling. Whereas before a manual physical inspection would take sixteen hours, the new rail side micro-data center inspects can inspect 120 rail cars traveling at speed in a total time of eight minutes.
CN train passes through Duos’ Railcar Inspection Portal
Manufacturing Edge Reference Architecture
Dell’s blueprint for manufacturing unites Dell’s SD-WAN connectivity with its hyperconverged VxRail appliance, offered as a service via Apex Private Cloud. Again, Dell sees manufacturers using the framework to derive insights from workstations, mobile phones, sensors and other endpoints within the manufacturing process.
Partnership with Equinix
Equinix is a long-term partner of Dell, and its servers and hardware are often to be seen in the colocation providers’ racks. Apex storage as a service is to be available in Equinix IBXs, installed and managed by Dell. Enterprises will have access to ‘near infinite’ storage resources.
Streaming Data Platform
Dell has upgraded (or rather, shrunk) its Streaming Data Platform; the device size makes it more suited for local, real-time edge analytics purposes. Dell gave the use case of an amusement park that is using it to ingest, store and analyze data in real time, sending timely alerts to staff when a ride needs maintenance. This enables problems to be picked up early, saving on costs and downtime.
Dell spoke about some recent additions to its edge server range such as the XR11 and XR12 which are compact and able to withstand harsh conditions but with enterprise specifications and able to support GPUs.
Dell Technologies | Duos Technologies | edge analytics | edge cloud | GPU | private cloud | use case