VMware looking towards IoT and the edge

As the world of edge computing and IoT becomes more distributed, billions of connected devices require increasing levels of compute at the edge. This needs to be secured, managed, and automated, and VMware wants to look after that on behalf of the enterprise.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

VMware this week unveiled its plan for developing a framework that extends its hybrid and multi-cloud environments to the edge.

There were two major elements to the company's edge and Internet of Things (IoT) play discussed during VMworld in Las Vegas this week, Project Dimension and an upgrade to Pulse IoT.

The idea behind Project Dimension is to deliver the same simplicity as VMware Cloud but do it for customers' on-premises datacentre and edge locations.

Project Dimension will extend VMware Cloud to deliver software-defined datacentre (SDDC) infrastructure and hardware as-a-service to on-premises locations.

Essentially, it's an easy way for the SDDC stack to be running at the edge for edge applications without the complexity of managing it from a lifecycle point of view -- software install, upgrade, configure, patch -- as all of that is handled by VMware as a service.

By edge, VMware means compute located at non-datacentre and non-cloud locations. The company has essentially broken the edge focus into four different environments: Industrial such as factories and plants; ruggedized environments like oil and gas; smart grids and cities where there are outdoor and extreme environments; and then transportation covering internal sensors of rail, cars, buses, and ships.

Read also: Where's the 'edge' in edge computing? Why it matters, and how we use it

Pulse IoT Center has been out for six months, but this week VMware announced 2.0, which has been extended to a SaaS offering that can now scale up to a half a billion devices.

The point of Pulse IoT Center is to enable OT and IT to be able to manage, monitor, and secure across all of the heterogeneous types of devices.

"The challenge there is across enterprises they're going to have so many different IoT use cases, they're going to have surveillance, smart conference rooms, factories -- they might even have embedded things they send to customers that they want to have more management around, that are becoming more software-defined," VMware's Internet of Things Business VP Mimi Spier told ZDNet.

"From a VMware perspective, it's just another type of compute."

Dell Technologies this week announced new solutions and bundles aimed at simplifying edge computing and IoT deployment, with the idea to build an open foundation that scales out.

Speaking with ZDNet, Dell Technologies CTO of IoT solutions Jason Shepherd said the new offering will allow for the plugging in of "best-in-class ingredients" by others.

Building on EdgeX, which is a common open framework for IoT edge computing and an ecosystem of interoperable components, Shepherd said the future is open, and proclaimed that gone are the days of vendors locking a customer in.

"In this market, where there is all this new innovation, it's about pace of innovation, that's how you stay ahead -- you have to float all boats for scale, just make sure your boat's the fastest and the best, that's how it works," he explained.

"You think PCs would have scaled if it cost $1,000 to connect a keyboard? It's about the outcome, it's about analytics, it's about who has the best algorithm and the infrastructure below.

"We build the guts so our partners can build the glory."

The first release under the banner of a computer vision foundation is surveillance, and VMware's Pulse IoT Center will be running the cameras.

"We have all this fabulous software and they have all this great hardware and there's a couple others in the family that can provide some value as well," Spier added. "We now have a full story at the edge"

VMware earlier this month announced its plan to acquire the technology and team of Dell EMC Service Assurance Suite, which comprises software spanning network health, performance monitoring, and root cause analysis for communications service providers (CSPs) and their customers.

According to the company, the addition of the Dell EMC Service Assurance Suite technology to the VMware Telco NFV portfolio equips CSPs with the ability to maintain operational reliability in their core network, cloud, and IT domains across physical and virtual infrastructure.

Must read: Top 5G announcements from MWC 2018

The purchase from Dell EMC is helping VMware prepare for 5G-driven advanced applications supporting IoT, AI, machine learning, and augmented and virtual reality

Speaking with media during the event, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said the real 5G build gets started in 2020, when the big architectural shifts happen in the space.

"If we were at a sporting event I'd call vSphere the national anthem part of the game," he said. "The game hasn't really started yet, but as all of that's going on, people are kicking the ball around and warming up -- that's where we think we are with 5G."

Disclosure: Asha Barbaschow travelled as a guest of VMware to VMworld in Las Vegas


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