Product Review: Dell Edge Gateway 3000 Series

We are only on the edge of an era that will provide us with more data than we know what to do with. Analysts think by 2020 there will be over 20 billion devices connected to the Internet. It will become impractical for most companies to backhaul information to the cloud for viewing the data’s analytics and therefore they will want to make more decisions closer to the edge of the devices themselves. This is the precise need that Dell had in mind when they created their Edge Gateway 3000 Series.

The Dell Edge Gateway 3000 Series brings the data from Internet of Things (IoT) devices directly to the people who need that information right away. This means instead of data only being available in the cloud, it is accessible on the edge of the device itself on the customer’s premises, such as on a delivery truck. “As the number of connected devices becomes more ubiquitous, we know that intelligent computing at the edge of the network is critical….” Andy Rhodes, Dell’s Vice President and General Manager, Internet of Things, explained in a press release. “The small and mighty 3000 Series opens up new opportunities for our customers and partners to get smarter with their data and make big things happen.”

At less than five inches high and weighing 2.2 pounds, the 3000 Series is built to work in areas where normal computers cannot like dirty boiler rooms, on top of buildings or on oil rigs instead of in dry, heat-controlled offices. The compact but rugged 3000 Series can maintain 100% CPU utilization in dead air (lacking airflow) environments with temperatures between -22℉ and 158℉. It is protected from blowing dirt particles, rain, sleet, snow, water and splashing oil though it is not completely submersible. And it functioned through shock and vibration testing for mobile use cases (like on trains) when most electronics falter.

You can hook the 3000 Series up to either a modern or legacy system but in order to work the device needs to have an interface to talk with the 3000 Series 24/7/365. The pipeline for traffic depends on the language of the device though its programmability ports make the 3000 Series flexible. It can get online via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE, 3G or 4G LTE, Ethernet or ZigBee and collects, aggregates and processes data with Intel® Atom™ processors while containing between 8GB and 64GB of storage.

Operational Technology (OT) employees will use the 3000 Series as their jobs become more enmeshed with IT. In the past, facilities managers handled HVACS and did not need to worry about the IT side of things but now that there is an IP address and the HVAC hooks up to the network they have to worry about the security, provision, updates and other new scenarios. Dell is using the 3000 Series with its GPS, accelerometers and atmospheric pressure sensors to target industrial automation (energy, oil, gas, refrigeration, cold, building automation or controlling factory floors), transportation (planes, trains or automobiles) and retail/media (digital signage, kiosks, info screens or traffic management for smart cities).

What customers do with the 3000 Series after they set it up depends on their needs. Many customers are reaching out to vertically-focused Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and System Integrators (SIs) whose solutions reference Dell infrastructure. One example is KMC Controls, a company that manufactured building automation solutions then created KMC Commander with their software and the Dell Edge Gateway 5000 Series as a service to manage someone else’s building plus an app to suggest how to make the building more efficient. IoT work allows for do-it-yourself initiatives to achieve a proof of concept like if you already manage a fleet of trucks and need the hardware. The value is the quick access to the data. For example, a digital sign repair person could see the data live as they fix it rather than waiting for the data to go to their office and receiving reports on if it worked from someone else.

Customers can use the Dell Edge Gateway 5000 Series in conjunction with the three vertical-specific 3000 Series models. For example, a building automation customer could have a 3001 model on each floor then aggregate the data in one 5000 Series. The 3001 model is designed for industrial automation because of its I/O ports, serials portal, Building Automation Control Network, Modbus and other machine languages. The 3002 is designed for transportation because of its ZigBee, CAN bus, GPS for moving data and telemetry. The 3003 is designed for media and retail kiosks because of its model video output and a line in / line out for streaming audio. Its near-real time applications include surveillance, a passenger information management system, vending machine monitoring and more.

The 3000 Series series is powered by 12 volts of DC electricity — the power found in most buildings or cars. Its POE (power over ethernet) cable can also power it through the ethernet directly. A unique feature of the 3000 Series is its ignition pin on a power adapter that allows you to power it while cold cranking your vehicle, a useful feature for the transportation industry. The way cold cranking works is that all of the power goes to the engine to power the car but the pin allows the 3000 Series to run even if it drops to six volts.

A key differentiator is that although you can buy traditional IoT devices from other companies who can build anything you want, these often take 13 to 16 weeks to produce and require a minimum order of 1000 units. Dell allows you to buy online starting with a quantity of one for delivery two to three weeks later. This provides a quick and inexpensive proof of concept to show improvements to your environment.

Along with purchasing the device, Dell recommends customers buy the accessories that are specifically made for the 3000 Series. These include vertical and perpendicular mounting solutions for a factory wall DIN rail or under the hood of a truck that cut space by 75%, cable management solutions, an SD card to store up to 64GB and more. Previously, you used to have to be certified for all countries’ broadband but Dell handles all the certifications saving customers time and money. They offer the hardware, software (manageability security solutions, operating system), accessories and services. In addition to Dell’s standard a la carte solutions of support, security, data center infrastructure, configuration and updating the OS already preloaded in box, you can also buy their remote manageability Edge Device Manager (EDM) to manage all of your IoT devices in one place or the Dell EMC OEM, which helps customers plan, build, deploy and maintain solutions.

The 3000 Series is built to last for five years but if you buy a 5-year warranty in year five of ownership then you can extend its life to a decade. Dell provides standard support or — for $50 a year — pro support. It also has an advance exchange so if the 3000 Series fails and Dell can’t fix it over the phone they will ship you a new one and take back the broken one to eliminate downtime during mission critical applications.

As Dell is one of the leaders in IT security for infrastructure, your data on the 3000 Series will be well protected. There is a GTM on the device to encrypt data as it enters or leaves, an option to wipe drives remotely for security at every level, enclosures with padlocks and an intrusion switch to alert your IT staff if someone tries to open it without authorization.

The Dell Edge Gateway 3000 Series’ machine-to-machine (M2M) data on the edge will give you the business insights you want when you need them. Its price starts at $399 and it will be available in May 2017. You can learn more on Dell’s website.

Additional Resources

Dell Edge Gateway 3000 series product sheet:

Kelsey Leljedal

Kelsey Leljedal is a web strategist from Philadelphia. She has enjoyed learning about changes in technology since her first web job in 2012. When she isn’t doing research she takes classes, creates art, reads, travels, and takes in the food and culture in the City of Brotherly Love. Contact Kelsey at [email protected]