HP Enterprise joins battle for the edge of IoT

HPE's Edgeline IoT Systems are gateways for working on data before it crosses a network

Hewlett Packard Enterprise new sign
The Hewlett Packard Enterprise street sign is seen outside its Palo Alto, California, headquarters Credit: Hewlett Packard Enterprise

The Internet of Things could help some companies save money or even boost sales, and the big names of enterprise tech are lining up to help their customers make the leap.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is in the thick of that pack. On Wednesday in London, it unveiled two gateway devices for gathering and processing data at the edges of IoT networks. The HPE IoT System EL10 and EL20 are available now.

For enterprises, IoT holds out the promise of collecting information about what all the machines in a company are doing in real time. That data can help an organization predict when something needs maintenance and learn over time where the biggest demands on the system really are. If the company sells complex systems, like jet engines or turbines, IoT can also help it keep customers happy.

Most enterprises are just starting to figure out what they can do with the current generation of IoT technology, IDC analyst Michael Palma says. They face tough challenges that include deploying hundreds or thousands of devices, securing them all against cyber attacks, and just figuring out whether there's a viable business case for IoT in the organization.

But defining what data is useful is another major task, Palma said. IoT can flood an organization with data that it doesn't need and strain its network and systems in the process.

Part of preventing that is knowing what you want from IoT, he said. But part of it is crunching some of the numbers near the edge, where they come from, instead of sending everything through the network for the data center to figure out. That calls for miniature servers acting as gateways.

HP and others don't plan to miss out on the chance to sell all those edge computers. Dell and Cisco Systems are making big bets, and HPE, which just emerged from the breakup of HP, is following suit.

Like Dell, HPE is working with Intel on its edge systems. The two companies said last month that their partnership would produce gateways based on Intel's Core i5 and Atom chip families, to collect, process and analyze data from sensors and devices.

On Wednesday, HPE announced the first in a series of new systems for this space, which it calls the Edgeline IoT Systems family. In addition to chewing on the incoming data, they can also control the IoT devices at the edge.

The HPE IoT System EL10 is a rugged platform designed for price performance in entry-level deployments. The EL20 is for more demanding, high-volume deployments, with more computing capabilities and easier installation. Both are certified to work with Microsoft Azure IoT Suite, echoing a theme in announcements from Discover this week, where HPE is betting heavily on the Azure cloud.

Both will be available in ruggedized, mobile and rack-mounted versions. HPE sees them being deployed in industrial, logistics, transportation, health care, government and retail operations. 

Future Edgeline systems will be based on HPE's Moonshot system architecture, which was originally designed for power-efficient servers in scale-out data centers. Moonshot will allow the gateways to consume less energy and space, which can be important measures out at the edge of a network.

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