Dell makes £1bn IoT bet while Ericsson unveils the smart scarecrow


Dell Technologies has announced a three-year, $1 billion investment which will underpin a new IoT Division to focus the development of products and services across the rest of the business.

And while some people might assume such announcements are nothing more than a bit of PR posturing by the attention-deprived, don’t forget this is a company which doesn’t mind throwing a bit of cash around. It was only in 2015 the team decided to shell out $67 billion to acquire EMC to bulk out the focus on cloud; Micheal Dell doesn’t joke when it comes to cash.

The new business unit will be led by VMware CTO Ray O’Farrell and will focus on creating solutions which make use of the Dell Technology resources, but also the tools in the wider ecosystem. In terms of the poster child of the Dell Technologies IoT offensive, it would appear the Edge Gateways are going to be the springboard to bigger and better things.

This is a relatively simple idea in theory, but a bit more complicated in practise. Managed by the VMware Pulse IoT Control Center, the Edge Gateways allow for more analytics and actions to be taken on the edge of the network. Data sets will (in theory) no longer have to be sent back to a centralized cloud, meaning transmission costs and time can be saved. It might seem a bit frivolous, but there are instances where the fractions can means profits; think about optimizing equipment on an oil rig in the middle of the North Sea, or robotic surgery. Latency in one instance means a bit less profit, in the other in means a bit less arm.

“Dell Technologies has long seen the opportunity within the rapidly growing world of IoT, given its rich history in the edge computing market,” said O’Farrell.

“Our new IoT Division will leverage the strength across all of Dell Technologies family of businesses to ensure we deliver the right solution – in combination with our vast partner ecosystem – to meet customer needs and help them deploy integrated IoT systems with greater ease.”

It might seem like a simple idea, but the best ones usually are. And don’t forget, while we have been talking about the IoT-gasm for some time, it is still a new idea for those who would on the enterprise side of things. The concept of edge computing was one which attracted significant attention a few years back, but the euphoria clearly wasn’t sustainable. While it might not be a fad right now, it is a critical component of the IoT mix; those who master the edge will have an advantage over those who rely on applications and processes which are managed by the core cloud.

Elsewhere in the IoT world, Ericsson has been getting down and dirty with farmers. Working alongside PS Solutions and CKD, the Swedes have brought out a number of new agriculture related IoT offerings which includes a connected scarecrow.

Known as ‘e-kakashi’ (which translates to e-scarecrow), the offering will aim to create an ideal environment for almost any crop to grow in. Using PS Solutions and Ericsson’s AI knowhow, e-kakashi’ monitors temperature, humidity, CO2 and other conditions, to make recommendations for CKD’s kit to alter the environment. For example, to maintain the ideal temperature for growing tomatoes, “e-kakashi” adjusts greenhouse ventilation.

See, IoT isn’t just about talking fridges.

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