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Dell unveils IoT strategy

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Dell Technologies has unveiled its Internet of Things (IoT) vision and strategy, a new IoT division as well as new IoT specific products, labs, partner program and consumption models.

The company says the announcement underscores Dell Technologies’ commitment to helping customers realise their digital future by safely navigating the complex and often fragmented IoT landscape.

Dell Technologies provided the following information:

As more and more customers look to digitally transform their business, a new model of computing is emerging. For the last 15 years the IT industry has seen the rise of Cloud Computing, a highly centralised model for delivering IT services.  But in an age where every type of device, from phones to cars to light bulbs to thermostats to heart monitors are alive and intelligent, there is a requirement for distributed, real time, processing of information. These devices simply cannot wait for a response from centralised cloud infrastructure that may be ‘seconds’ away.

“IoT is fundamentally changing how we live, how organisations operate and how the world works” said Michael Dell, chairman and chief executive officer of Dell Technologies. “Dell Technologies is leading the way for our customers with a new distributed computing architecture that brings IoT and artificial intelligence together in one, interdependent ecosystem from the edge to the core to the cloud. The implications for our global society will be nothing short of profound.”

Customers have expressed a growing need for one company to pull together complete IoT solutions that can be deployed within their organisations. Dell Technologies’ comprehensive approach to IoT is based on market leading technology and services and a carefully curated partner ecosystem designed to realise value for customers today and prepare them for the future.

New Dell Technologies IoT Division

The company’s new IoT Division will be led by VMware CTO Ray O’Farrell, and is chartered with orchestrating the development of IoT products and services across the Dell Technologies family. The IoT Solutions Division will combine internally developed technologies with offerings from the vast Dell Technologies ecosystem to deliver complete solutions for the customer.

“Dell Technologies has long seen the opportunity within the rapidly growing world of IoT, given its rich history in the edge computing market” explained Ray O’Farrell, VMware EVP & CTO, and general manager for Dell Technologies IoT division.. “

“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.”

Organic Investments in our IoT Future – Products, Labs, Partner Program

Over the next three years, Dell Technologies is investing $1B in new IoT products, solutions, labs, partner program and ecosystem.

Today Dell Technologies already provides Edge Gateways, which can be secured and managed by VMware IoT Control Center.  Dell EMC PowerEdge C-Series servers have been enhanced for batch training and machine learning as a part of the distributed core. Dell EMC Isilon and Elastic Cloud Storage provide file and object storage for massive amounts of data and enable analytics through HDFS. Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) and Pivotal Container Service (PKS) provide an ideal platform for developing new cloud-based analytics applications.  Virtustream’s PCF Service provides a managed Pivotal Cloud Foundry Service simplifying the deployment and operation of mission-critical cloud architected workloads in Virtustream Enterprise Cloud, while Virtustream Storage Cloud is available for off-premises cloud object storage. Finally, Dell Boomi rapidly connects relevant data to enhance cloud-based analytics and deep learning.

New product development initiatives include:

  • Dell EMC ‘Project Nautilus’: Software that enables the ingestion and querying of data streams from IoT gateways in real time.  Data can subsequently be archived to file or object storage for deeper advanced analytics;
  • ‘Project Fire’: a hyper converged platform part of the VMware Pulse family of IoT solutions that includes simplified management, local compute, storage and IoT applications such as real-time analytics. ‘Project Fire’ enables businesses to roll-out IoT use cases faster and have consistent infrastructure software from edge to core to cloud;
  • RSA ‘Project IRIS’: Currently under development in RSA Labs, Iris extends the Security Analytics capability to provide threat visibility and monitoring right out to the edge;
  • Disruptive technologies like processor accelerators will increase the velocity of analytics closer to the edge. Collaboration with industry leaders like VMware, Intel and NVIDIA and the Dell Technologies Capital investment in Graphcore reflect opportunities to optimise servers for AI, machine learning and deep learning performance.

Customers can also now visit one of the newly designed Dell Technologies IoT Labs.

New IoT services initiatives include:

  • Advisory services including strategic consulting to set business goals, direction and strategy, infrastructure design, deployment and support services.
  • Implementation of ‘Worldwide Herd’, consulting services for performing analytics on geographically dispersed data – increasingly important to enable deep learning on datasets that cannot be moved for reasons of size, privacy and regulatory concern.

In addition, with the core focus on technology and services, Dell Technologies’ strategy is to grow the IoT footprint via a strong partner program and ecosystem.

  • Dell’s award-winning IoT Solutions Partner Program is a carefully curated, multi-tiered program comprising more than 90 partners from enterprises like Intel, Microsoft and SAP to start-ups like Action Point, IMS Evolve, FogHorn and Zingbox.
  • The program will now support partners across all Dell Technologies businesses, allowing for easier collaboration and implementation of blueprints.
  • An example of the partner ecosystem at work is the recent announcement that VMware and SAP are collaborating to create an integrated solution for IoT analytics and vertical applications. The solution utilises VMware Pulse IoT Center, SAP Cloud Platform and SAP Leonardo and is designed to help customers roll out IoT use cases faster and scale more easily.

Dell Technologies continues the commitment to openness and standardisation in IoT by participation in efforts such as EdgeX Foundry, the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and the OpenFog Consortium. Seeded by Dell source code, EdgeX Foundry is a vendor-neutral open source project building a common interoperability framework to facilitate an ecosystem for edge computing. Since launching in April 2017, EdgeX Foundry has grown to more than 60 member organisations. Recently the project announced its first major milestone with the ‘Barcelona’ code release, as well as an alliance with the IIC to collaborate on testbeds.

IoT is creating new revenue models for customers and, in turn, new financing options. Dell Technologies provides customers with cloud-like payment flexibility through Dell Financial Services flexible consumption models. These payment solutions are available across the Dell Technologies family of business and allow customers flexibility in technology acquisition and consumption.

Investments in IoT Future through Dell Technologies Capital

Dell Technologies Capital, the venture arm of Dell Technologies, is partnering closely with the new IoT division, providing industry insight and relationships to support its strategic agenda. Through its investments in promising startups and founders, Dell Technologies Capital provides a valuable link to the external innovation ecosystem, effectively accelerating the development and deployment of new IoT, AI and ML technologies and solutions. Dell Technologies Capital will be showcasing some of these startups and investments at the company’s New York IQT event, including:

  • Edico Genome, creator of world’s first processor designed to analyse next-generation sequencing data
  • FogHorn Systems, a leading developer of edge-device intelligence software for IoT solutions
  • Graphcore, a developer of next-generation processors optimised to accelerate AI-solutions
  • Moogsoft, a market leader in applying Artificial Intelligence to IT Ops (AIOps)
  • Zingbox, a developer of IoT security solutions to enable the Internet of Trusted Things

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AppDate: Prepare for space

In this week’s AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights Space Nation Navigator, Hitman Sniper, Snake Mask, Memrise, WhatsApp Web, and Carrot Weather.

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Space Nation Navigator

Space Nation Navigator is a bit of a strange app. It is part game, part exercise and part educational. On the game side, users have to navigate the Mars Rover, put the International Space Station back into orbit or move their Martians to safety before a sand storm hits Mars. When it comes to exercise, Space Nation Navigator provides users with a range of exercises and Yoga videos to prepare them for space travel and working in an anti-gravity environment. The education aspect teaches users about the planets, and star constellations, and then offers quizzes on what has been taught.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Memrise

Memrise takes a new approach to help people learn new languages. Instead of providing a user with random phrases and words to memorise, the app connects you with a person already fluent in the language you want to learn. In turn, the person you are speaking to wants to learn the language in which you are fluent. Once your profile is filled out and languages selected, it connects you with people around the world who are interested in your language, and then allows you to chat with them in real-time. Memrise also lets one learn new languages through games, chatbots and grammarbots that help with spelling, tenses and pronunciations.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Hitman Sniper

Hitman Sniper is loosely based on the Agent 47 movie released a few years ago. The game offers players the ability to hone their shooting skills through a range of training courses and, once they think they are ready, they can start taking out the bad guys. Things start off easy enough, but they get more and more difficult as one progresses through the 150 missions on offer. One will also have to upgrade various gun components, like scopes, magazine capacities and silencers, to make the missions a little easier. Hitman Sniper lets users buy 16 to tackle each of the missions – either with real money or via the points accumulated by completing missions. Money and points can also be used to upgrade firearms.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: R7 – with a range of in-app purchases.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Snake Mask

The iconic Snake game that was preinstalled on most older Nokia phones has had a complete make-over. It now uses Facebook’s AR technology, meaning that you have to navigate the snake around obstacles in your home or office, all the while collecting coins and stars that change the snake’s speed and length. Unfortunately, Snake Mask is only available on Nokia’s new range of smartphones. However, it should not take long before it slithers onto other devices.

 

Platform: New Nokia smartphones running Android.

Cost: Free to use through the Facebook app installed on the device.

Stockists: Available through the Facebook app.

 

WhatsApp Web

Although this is by no means a new app, it is an extremely useful one, and one that not many people know about. Tapping out WhatsApps on your phone is easy enough, but thanks to WhatsApp Web it can be even easier. Open the WhatApp Web page under WhatsApp and you will see a QR code. Scan this code through WhatsApp on your mobile and you will be shown a replica of what you would normally see on your phone. You can then type and reply to messages using your computer instead of having to stop everything and unlock your phone every time a message comes through. WhatsApp Web is great if you share your computer with other people as it automatically disconnects when the browser is closed. However WhatsApp also offers an app that when installed will stay connected to your phone unless you manually remove it.

 

Platform: Any up-to-date Internet browser

Cost: Free to use and install

Stockists: Visit www.WhatsApp.com

 

Carrot Weather

There are thousands of weather apps on the Internet these days and all of them do the same thing – inform you of the weather in your area. However, Carrot Weather has taken what is just another app and turned it into something fun. By fun, I mean sarcastic, rude and completely politically incorrect. A user starts off by selecting religious and political views. It then asks about personality, ranging from friendly to homicidal to overkill – which includes profanity. So, for instance, instead of waking up to to the standard partly cloudy forecast, Carrot Weather will display something like: “It’s only partly sunny, the sun is a total effing failure.” It also has a range of insults that it throws at you whenever you open the app – some of them downright insulting, so it is definitely not for those who are easily offended. The app’s user interface is very simple, displaying a week’s daily forecast and hourly forecasts for the day selected.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: Free to download but with adverts. The premium, advert free version costs R12 per month.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

* Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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SA Start-up reinvents PABX

For any South African business, the idea of setting up or changing a telephonic switchboard system is the stuff of nightmares. Dealing with expensive hardware and hearing things like QSIG and VOIP is not what you’d call exciting.But now there is an app.

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Enter BuzzBox (www.buzzboxcloud.co.za), a web-based telephone switchboard that is aimed at small and medium sized businesses wanting to take the hassle and cost out of the company switchboard. Whether you are a small one-man operation or a larger organisation with staff working remotely, BuzzBox is the best switchboard solution.

What sets BuzzBox apart from anything else on the market is its easy-to-use dashboard. It puts you in control of everything from picking your phone number to setting up voice prompts and managing your business-hours schedule.

BuzzBox was developed when the startup behind it, Jini-Guru, needed such a service for its own use across multiple continents. “When we started Jini-Guru we could not find a seamless online process that would allow us to set up a full web-based switchboard, so we decided to build one for ourselves,” says Mike Smits, Director at Jini-Guru.

He says a lot of startups today are tech savvy and know how to use apps and the services that go with it. “It’s the uberisation of services and its driving demand for instant service activation.”

BuzzBox works as an app on both iOS and Android but users wanting a desk phone option can choose from a variety of devices on offer or use their existing VOIP phones.

Setting up a BuzzBox account takes 5 minutes. During registration your FICA documents are uploaded [ID and proof or residence] and you get to pick your phone number before the account is created. Companies that want to keep an existing number can do so too.

The real magic happens when you log on to the BuzzBox Dashboard. The main screen displays a summary of statistics for your account while the left-hand menu provides you quick access to various configuration settings and reports.

Setting up new extensions or external numbers is done with a few clicks and you can even set up various departments which is a great way to route a call to various people in a department, like sales or support.

The intuitive user interface also makes it easy to set up hold-music and voice prompts. You can add voice prompts by recording them straight to your phone, just make sure you use a clear voice with quiet surroundings for the best customer experience.

One of the main features of BuzzBox is its call recording feature that allows an organisation to record calls for legislative purposes, such as a lawyer, or for customer service purposes such as support. Recordings are stored securely online, and you have the ability to download recordings for playback. Companies can opt-in for this service and it’s free to use. Recordings are stored online and are fully encrypted so only you can listen to, or download them. Storage costs R1 for every 1000 minutes of stored recordings.

Other features include call forwarding and scheduling. The latter allows you to set office hours for your organisation which will divert calls to an after-hours messaging service. You also have the option to enable routing to an employee who is on call after hours.

BuzzBox also has a reseller program for companies wanting to offer this as a switchboard solution to their existing customers.

The costs for this service is R89 p/m for the first phone number which includes your first extension for free. Thereafter you’ll pay R89p/m per extension. Calls between extensions are free but you pay per second for all outgoing phone calls. More info on pricing can be found here: https://buzzboxcloud.co.za/pricing/

BuzzBox is offering a Launch promotion where they are offering the first line and extension free for 12 months. Only pay for calls. Use promo code “feoifyaa” during sign-up to apply your discount.

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