Dell gets more edge-specific with Project Frontier platform

The company is expanding its end-to-end edge products and services lineup with zero-trust security and global support.
Written by Chris Preimesberger, Contributor
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In football, top-of-the-line edge rushers now are valued on defense nearly as much as quarterbacks are on offense. In the same vein, edge IT is now a full-fledged trend in enterprise computing here in 2022. 

Basically, edge picks up where there are gaps in cloud computing and packs in a lot of extra functionality. 

Though it has had a loosely coordinated edge strategy for a few years, Dell Technologies today clarified this part of its massive overall business by previewing a new development called Project Frontier, which will result in a stand-alone edge operations software and hardware platform sometime next year.

Frontier will help users better manage, secure, and orchestrate edge applications and infrastructure for deployments at global scale, company founder and CEO Michael Dell told analysts and reporters at a Dell Technologies press event.

Also: Dell CTO: All computer systems open up, our job is to do that to the cloud

Edge operations, which make use of automated processes, are generally found in locations ranging from manufacturing floors and retail stores, to remote wind turbines, to 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 have limited IT support to do it, Dell said. 

"We're really helping customers make multi-cloud real," Dell said. "Project Frontier is an edge operation software platform designed to help customers scale their edge applications in a secure way. All of that is backed up by our global support deployment network to help customers in advanced manufacturing and retail and transportation, logistics, and all these [other] industries where we're seeing the edge really take off in a big way."

Also: Cloud security: Five things you need to get right

Dell claims that Project Frontier eventually will bring the following capabilities to a company's edge-computing processes:

  • A choice of software applications, IoT frameworks, operational technologies, multi-cloud environments, and future technologies supported by an open architecture that will consolidate existing and new enterprise edge use cases.

  • Zero-trust-enabled security protection through edge applications, data, and infrastructure, from design to deployment, backed by end-to-end supply-chain security measures.

  • Centralized management of edge apps, zero-touch deployment, and secure device onboarding.

  • Minimal need for IT expertise in the field due to automation for edge deployments.

An IDC research survey from earlier this year reported that 42% of businesses say the most problematic aspect of edge deployments is putting together a cohesive edge management process.

Dell also said it is expanding its current edge portfolio in the following ways:

  • Edge analytics and operations: Manufacturers can optimize how they deploy edge applications with an Dell Validated Design for Manufacturing Edge, the company said. This now includes new Dell-validated partner applications to support advanced edge use cases, and improve factory processes and efficiencies, while reducing waste and raw materials usage for more sustainable operations. Manufacturers can respond quickly to changes in demand, and enable reconfigurable production lines with Dell's private 5G capability, Dell said.

  • Edge computing and analytics: The PowerEdge XR4000 is the smallest server in the Dell lineup at about the size of a shoebox. The XR4000 is 60% shorter than conventional data center servers, and its multiple mounting options allow it to be installed in a rack, on walls or ceilings, saving valuable floor space. The multi-node, 2U chassis server can survive unpredictable conditions, such as heat waves or falls, the company said. 

  • Edge data collection: Designed to withstand demanding edge locations, the Latitude 7230 Rugged Extreme Tablet is a light yet powerful 12-inch, ruggedized tablet, the company said. Built to operate in extreme cold and hot environments, the tablet is rated for maximum protection against dust, dirt, and water -- ideal for first responders and outdoor environments. It has new Wi-Fi 6E capability with dual-band support.

Dell said Project Frontier's edge software platform will be available in 2023; Validated Design for Manufacturing Edge enhancements will be available globally in early 2023. The PowerEdge XR4000 will be available globally in December. The Latitude 7230 Rugged Extreme Tablets will be available globally by this year, the company said.

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