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AI / Cloud Services / Edge Computing

Dell Intros New Edge, Generative AI, Cloud, Zero Trust Prods

New items Dell introduced include the NativeEdge platform; a partnership between itself and Nvidia to build Project Helix, a secure on-premises-based generative AI management package.
May 31st, 2023 11:00am by
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At its annual Dell Technologies World conference in Las Vegas last week, Dell joined a spate of companies this year in releasing new products that address emerging needs in edge management, secure generative AI development, zero trust security and multicloud workload management. It’s no surprise that these are the hottest sectors of enterprise IT products and services sales here in 2023.

New items Dell introduced include the NativeEdge platform; a partnership between itself and Nvidia to build Project Helix, a secure on-premises-based generative AI management package; Project Fort Zero, another new crack at providing an end-to-end zero trust security solution; and updates for its multicloud app-service management platform, Apex.

Dell NativeEdge

Dell had only a loosely coordinated edge strategy for a few years until last October when the company previewed a new development called Project Frontier, which was to result in a standalone edge operations software and hardware platform sometime in 2023.

“Sometime in 2023” is now here. Project Frontier is now closed, and Dell said its replacement, dubbed NativeEdge, is the industry’s “only” edge operations software platform delivering secure device onboarding at scale, remote management and multicloud application orchestration. Companies such as IBM, AWS, Google, HP, Microsoft, Hitachi, Oracle and several others may dispute the “only” claim, however. Here is Gartner’s most recent edge computing market report.

“This is the industry’s only edge operation platform that mixes up and delivers three things in parallel: secure device onboarding at scale; remote management of devices in those locations; and multicloud application orchestration to edge devices from data centers to make sure that the edge outcome end-to-end is deployed in the lifecycle,” Dell SVP of Edge Solutions Gil Schneorson told reporters.

Edge operations, which make use of automated processes, are generally found in locations ranging from manufacturing floors and retail stores to remote wind turbines and long-distance hospital operating rooms.

Use cases for edge computing are growing because more organizations want to manage and secure data at the source but often have limited IT support to do it.

For example, a large manufacturer may need to automate packaging and shipping across its numerous factory sites in various geographies. This means connecting multiple technologies, such as IoT, streaming data and machine vision, which requires dedicated devices to run multiple software applications across locations. Testing and deploying infrastructure to run the applications can take months. With NativeEdge, the manufacturer can consolidate its technology stacks using existing investments and reduce the time to deploy edge assets and applications from months to weeks, Schneorson said. The platform uses automation to streamline edge operations and helps the manufacturer securely roll out new applications to all sites from a central location.

NativeEdge is designed to run any enterprise edge use case with automated deployment, Schneorson said, integrating with various Dell data center hardware nodes. NativeEdge includes built-in zero trust internal use-confidential capabilities, Schneorson said.

The NativeEdge software platform will be available in 50 countries beginning in August, the company said.

Project Helix Partnership with Nvidia

Everybody needs “easier” when it comes to incorporating generative AI into an enterprise system, no matter where its use is being considered. Pre-built AI data models are one major step in that direction.

Dell and Nvidia revealed that Project Helix will result in a series of full-stack solutions with technical expertise and prebuilt tools based on their own infrastructure and software. This includes a complete blueprint to help enterprises use their proprietary data and more easily deploy generative AI responsibly and accurately, Dell said.

“Project Helix gives enterprises purpose-built AI models to more quickly and securely gain value from the immense amounts of data underused today,” Jeff Clarke, Dell Technologies’ vice chairman and co-chief operating officer, said in a media advisory. “With highly scalable and efficient infrastructure, enterprises can create a new wave of generative AI solutions that can reinvent their industries.”

Blueprints for on-premises generative AI Project Helix will support the complete generative AI lifecycle, from infrastructure provisioning, modeling, training, fine-tuning, application development and deployment, to deploying inference and streamlining results, Dell said. The validated designs will use Dell PowerEdge servers, such as the PowerEdge XE9680 and PowerEdge R760xa, which are optimized to deliver performance for generative AI training and AI inferencing, the company said. They will combine with Nvidia H100 Tensor Core GPUs and networking to form the infrastructure backbone for these workloads.

Dell did not indicate whether the Helix models could be run optimally on other brands of servers. Dell Validated Designs based on the Project Helix initiative will be available through traditional channels and Apex flexible consumption options beginning in July.

Dell Apex Multicloud Management

Dell Apex software, introduced in May 2021, is designed to work across all cloud platforms, public cloud storage software, client devices and computing environments. New additions to the company’s multicloud portfolio span data centers to public cloud and client devices include:

Dell, Microsoft, VMware and Red Hat platforms for specific cloud-based use cases:

Dell Apex Cloud Platform for Microsoft Azure features full-stack software integration and automated lifecycle management through Microsoft native management tools. The platform is designed for application modernization and is said to offer faster time to value of Azure based on Azure Arc-enabled infrastructure with consistent operations and governance across on-premises data centers, edge locations, and the Azure public cloud using Azure Arc.

Apex Cloud Platform for Red Hat OpenShift aims to simplify container-based application development and management, wherever applications are developed and deployed, through full stack software integration and automation with Kubernetes. Users can run containers and virtual machines side by side, natively within Kubernetes, for a wide variety of workloads — including AI/ML and analytics, with broad GPU support across any hybrid cloud footprint, Dell said.

Apex Cloud Platform for VMware gives users the flexibility to deploy vSphere on a fully integrated system with Dell software-defined storage. It joins Dell Apex Private Cloud and Dell Apex Hybrid Cloud within the broader Dell Apex portfolio to offer more choices for VMware users.

Zero Trust Security News

This is still on the drawing and testing boards for the next year until further notice. Project Fort Zero is designed to make zero trust more available for mid-range and smaller enterprises and is engineered to provide a hardened end-to-end zero trust security solution for global organizations to protect against cyberattacks.

Fort Zero is part of an ecosystem of more than 30 technology companies and will result in a validated, advanced maturity zero trust solution within the next 12 months, Dell said. “Zero trust is designed for decentralized environments, but integrating it across hundreds of point products from dozens of vendors is complex — making it out of reach for most organizations,” Herb Kelsey, industry CTO of government projects at Dell, told reporters. “We’re helping global organizations solve today’s security challenges by easing integration and accelerating adoption of Zero Trust.”

The fully configured Fort Zero solution will serve a variety of use cases, including on-premises data centers; remote or regional locations such as retail stores where secure, real-time analysis of customer data can deliver a competitive advantage; in the field, where a temporary implementation is needed in places with intermittent connectivity, such as airplanes or vehicles, for operational continuity.

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