VMware is developing a managed edge appliance that has compute and storage for running applications and a software-defined WAN for connecting to the data center and public clouds.
The upcoming offering is in technical preview under the name Project Dimension. The product is a lightweight hyper-converged infrastructure system that includes the vSphere infrastructure compute stack and the vSAN software-defined storage product.
For networking, Project Dimension uses VMware’s NSX SD-WAN by VeloCloud, which VMware acquired last year. The VeloCloud SD-WAN provides connectivity to the corporate data center, SaaS or applications running on IaaS.
Project Dimension is essentially the branch version of VMware’s Cloud Foundation, which merges compute, storage and network provisioning to simplify application deployment in the data center and the Amazon and Microsoft Azure public clouds. Companies could use Project Dimension to run IoT and other software in retail stores, factories and oil rigs, according to VMware. Actual hardware for the system would come from VMware partners.
Companies already using Cloud Foundation could apply their policies and security to applications running on Project Dimension.
“There’s a lot of potential for operational simplicity. There’s the potential for improved multi-cloud management, and there’s the potential for faster time to market [for users’ applications],” said Stephen Elliot, an analyst at IDC.
But Project Dimension’s hybrid cloud approach — which lets companies run some applications at the edge, while also connecting to software running in the cloud — could eventually make it a “niche product,” said Andrew Froehlich, president of computer consultancy West Gate Networks, based in Loveland, Colo.
“While hybrid architectures are extremely common today, most businesses are looking to get to a 100% public cloud model as soon as they can,” he said. “Thus, it’s an interesting concept — and one that some can use — but I don’t see this making a significant impact long term.”
How Project Dimension works as a managed service
VMware plans to offer Project Dimension as a managed service. A company would order the service by logging into the VMware Cloud and going to its Edge Portal, where the business would choose a Project Dimension resource cluster and a service-level agreement.
Businesses would then upload the IP addresses of the edge locations, where VMware would send technicians to install the Project Dimension system. Each system would appear as a separate cluster in the Edge Portal.
VMware plans to use its cloud-based lifecycle management system to fix failures and handle infrastructure firmware and software updates. As a result, companies could focus on developing and deploying business applications without having to worry about infrastructure maintenance.
VMware, which introduced Project Dimension last week at the VMworld conference in Las Vegas, did not say when it would release the product. Also, the company did not disclose pricing.
Today, we are happy to introduce support for the Web Authentication specification in Microsoft Edge, enabling better, more secure user experiences and a passwordless experience on the web.
With Web Authentication, Microsoft Edge users can sign in with their face, fingerprint, PIN, or portable FIDO2 devices, leveraging strong public-key credentials instead of passwords.
Staying secure on the web is more important than ever. We trust web sites to process credit card numbers, save addresses and personal information, and even to handle sensitive records like medical information. All this data is protected by an ancient security model—the password. But passwords are difficult to remember, and are fundamentally insecure—often re-used, and vulnerable to phishing and cracking.
Beginning with build 17723, Microsoft Edge supports the CR version of Web Authentication. Our implementation provides the most complete support for Web Authentication to date, with support for a wider variety of authenticators than other browsers.
Windows Hello allows users to authenticate without a password on any Windows 10 device, using biometrics—face and fingerprint recognition—or a PIN number to sign in to web sites. With Windows Hello face recognition, users can log in to sites that support Web Authentication in seconds, with just a glance.
Users can also use external FIDO2 security keys to authenticate with a removable device and your biometrics or PIN. For websites that are not ready to move to a completely passwordless model, backwards compatibility with FIDO U2F devices can provide a strong second factor in addition to a password.
We’re working with industry partners on lighting up the first passwordless experiences around the web. At RSA 2018, we shared a sneak peak of how these APIs could be used to approve a payment on the web with your face. Passwordless authentication experiences like this are the foundation of a world without passwords.
We’re excited to get implementation into the hands of more developers to see what you build. To get started with Web Authentication in Microsoft Edge, check out more information on our implementation in the Web Authentication dev guide, or install Windows Insider Preview build 17723 or higher to try it out for yourself!
– Angelo Liao, Program Manager, Microsoft Edge – Ibrahim Damlaj, Program Manager, Windows Security
Google is bringing tensor processing units to the edge. At the Google Cloud Next conference in San Francisco, the company introduced Edge TPU, an application-specific integrated circuit designed to run TensorFlow Lite machine learning models on mobile and embedded devices.
The announcement is indicative of both the red-hot AI hardware market, as well as the growing influence machine learning is having on the internet of things and wireless devices. But the Edge TPU also gives Google a more comprehensive edge-to-cloud AI stack to compete against the likes of Microsoft, Amazon and IBM as it looks to attract a new generation of application developers.
Analysts called the move a good one. “This fills in a big gap that Google had,” said Forrester’s Mike Gualtieri.
Spotlight on model inferencing
Google’s cloud environment is a fertile ground for training AI models, a nontrivial process that requires enormous amounts of data and processing power. Once a model has been trained, it’s put into production where it performs what’s known as inferencing, or where it uses its training to make predictions.
A growing trend is to push inferencing out to edge devices such as wireless thermostats or smart parking meters that don’t need a lot of power or even connectivity to the cloud, according to David Schatsky, managing director at Deloitte LLP. “These applications will avoid the latency that can be present when shuttling data back and forth to the cloud because they’ll be able to perform inferencing locally and on the device,” he said.
But Google customers who wanted to embed their models into edge devices had to turn to another provider — Nvidia or Intel — for that kind of functionality. Until now. The Edge TPU will give Google customers a more seamless environment to train machine learning models in its cloud and then deploy them into production at the edge.
It also appears to be a nod to the burgeoning relationship between AI and IoT. According to Schatsky, venture capital funding in AI-focused IoT startups outpaced funding to IoT startups overall last year. “AI is so useful in deriving insight from IoT data that it may soon become rare to find an IoT application that doesn’t use AI,” he said.
A competitive stack
Mike Gualtierianalyst, Forrester
The Edge TPU is in the same vein as an announcement Microsoft made last year with Project Brainwave, a deep learning platform that converts trained models to run more efficiently on Intel’s Field-Programmable Gate Arrays than on GPUs, according to Gualtieri. “There is a fundamental difference in training a model versus inferencing a model,” he said. “Google recognizes this. They’re not just saying this is a TPU and you can run it on the edge. No, they’re saying this is a fundamentally new chip designed specifically for inferencing.”
Indeed, Gualtieri said, the Edge TPU makes Google more competitive with Microsoft, Amazon and even IBM, all of which made moves to differentiate between model training and model inferencing sooner. “This is an effort, I believe, for Google to make its cloud more attractive, oddly by saying, well, yes, we have the cloud, but we also have the edge — the non-cloud,” he said.
James Kobielus, lead analyst at SiliconAngle Wikibon, also sees the Edge TPU as a strategic move. He called the Edge TPU an example of how the internet giant is creating a complete AI stack of hardware, software and tools for its customers while adding a force multiplier to compete against other vendors in the space.
“Google is making a strong play to build a comprehensive application development and services environment in the cloud to reach out to partners, developers and so forth to give them the tools they need to build the new generation of apps,” he said.
Kobielus highlighted the introduction of the Edge TPU software development kit as another example of how Google is planning to compete. The dev kit, which is still in beta and available to only those who apply for access, shows a “great effort” to convince developers to build their apps on the Google cloud and to catch up to Amazon and Microsoft, both of which have a strong developer orientation, he said. “They needed to do this — to reach out to the developer market now while the iron is hot,” he said.
What is the Google AI stack missing? It’s too soon to tell, both Kobielus and Gualtieri said. But with innovation in AI happening at breakneck speed, companies should see this as a part of an evolution and not an end point.
“Different applications are going to require even different chips,” Gualtieri said. “Google is not behind on this. It’s just what’s going to happen because there may be very data-heavy applications or power requirements on smaller devices. So I would expect a whole bunch of different chips to come out. Is that a gap? I would say no because of maturity in this industry.”
Ribbon Communications said it will acquire network edge orchestration provider Edgewater Networks for $110 million to expand its unified communications portfolio and enter the software-defined WAN market.
The acquisition offers Ribbon Communications, based in Westford, Mass., the opportunity to expand its service offerings, especially for its UC-as-a-service (UCaaS) provider partners, according to Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill.
“The Edgewater portfolio brings in a wide range of edge devices that enables UCaaS providers to monitor performance quality for voice and video services,” he said. Edgewater Networks, based in San Jose, Calif., has more than 635,000 actively deployed edge devices and more than 20 million connected endpoints, according to Ribbon.
Edgewater Networks provides service assurance, security and analytics tools for unified communications and software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) through a hybrid cloud or edge model. Its customers include communications service providers, managed services providers, and small and midsize enterprises.
Managing UC performance at remote offices
With the acquisition, Ribbon Communications will expand its UC portfolio with end-to-end service assurance and analytics for its Kandy UCaaS offering, as well as voice and data intelligence capabilities in its Ribbon Protect UC security offering.
Ribbon’s UCaaS offering is based on its Kandy embedded communications platform, and it uses Kandy’s APIs to provide voice, video and contact center capabilities. Ribbon Protect UC provides end-to-end security of the communications network to mitigate threats, such as toll fraud and telephony denial-of-service attacks.
The combined portfolio of Ribbon and Edgewater will expand Ribbon’s Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams offerings. Edgewater Networks’ services have been used in a number of Skype of Business deployments as remote survivable gateways, Lazar said.
“Blending the two companies provides a broader range of devices for both enterprises and service providers to manage UC performance at remote offices,” he said.
The combined portfolio helps Ribbon Communications toward its goal of expanding its global reach and entering new markets. Acquiring Edgewater Networks gives Ribbon entry to the SD-WAN market, Patrick Joggerst, chief marketing officer and executive vice president of business development at Ribbon, wrote in a blog post. Edgewater’s SD-WAN offering targets small and midsize organizations, but the acquisition will allow Edgewater to target larger enterprises and expand outside North America, he said.
The acquisition comes nearly eight months after real-time communications provider Genband and session border controller and UC security provider Sonus merged and rebranded under the Ribbon Communications name. The Edgewater acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter and highlights the ongoing vendor consolidation swirling around the UC market.
Satya Nadella recently shared our vision for the future of computing – one in which the intelligent edge and intelligent cloud create experiences where trusted technology is part of the fabric of our lives.Today at Computex 2018, joined by executives from Microsoft’s engineering, marketing and research teams, I had the opportunity to share what that vision means for our device partners. The opportunity to leverage artificial intelligence (AI), ubiquitous computing and Microsoft 365 multi-device and multi-sense experiences has never been greater. Together we can create new, compelling devices and experiences in the era of the intelligent edge and intelligent cloud.
To accelerate innovation in this new era we invite all our partners to join our Intelligent Edge Partner Community. The community will help partners connect with one another to identify opportunities to collaborate on technology innovation and achieve shared business goals. In addition, community members will be able to participate in training and community events, and can participate in early-adopter programs that provide access to documentation, specs, OS builds and certification details. To sign up, simply head to http://Microsoft.com/intelligentedge.
Today, in Taipei, we announced a new category of teamwork devices: Windows Collaboration Displays. These large, interactive displays will let people experience Microsoft 365 collaboration tools: Office, Teams and Whiteboard at room scale, and include built-in sensors that can connect to Azure IoT spatial intelligence capabilities. This incredible technology will allow facility managers to utilize environmental data to make real-time decisions. A variety of collaboration displays, from Sharp and Avocor will be available later this year.
We also announced Windows 10 IoT Core Services. This new service offering enables partners to commercialize a secure Internet of Things (IoT)-device backed by industry-leading support. It provides device makers the ability to manage updates for the OS, apps, settings and OEM-specific files, and is backed by 10 years of support.
Advances in ubiquitous computing and AI will drive the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge era Every part of our life, our homes, our cars and our workplaces are being transformed by digital technology. We are seeing this in every industry and sector of our economy. The era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge will be driven by advances in ubiquitous computing, artificial intelligence and multi-sense, multi-device experiences.
First, with ubiquitous computing, Azure is being built as the world’s largest computer with cloud services from 50 regions around the planet, more than any other cloud provider. Azure also has the broadest set of compliance certifications in the industry, and brands across all industries are using Azure at scale. With offerings like Azure Stack, an extension of Azure that enables a truly consistent hybrid cloud platform; Azure IoT, a broad set of services that power IoT solutions; Azure IoT Edge, that allows devices on the edge to act on their own and connect only when needed; and Azure Sphere, a new solution to secure the 9 billion microcontroller unit (MCU)-powered devices that are built and deployed every year, Microsoft provides the most comprehensive ubiquitous computing fabric that partners can use to bring intelligence to edge devices from servers to gateways, to the smallest MCUbased sensors.
Computer scientists at Microsoft have been working on AI technologies for decades. Thanks to the immense computing power of the Azure cloud, access to comprehensive and secure data spanning services such as Bing, Office and LinkedIn, and the AI breakthroughs coming out of our worldwide network of research labs, we are uniquely able to infuse AI into our core products and services. Beyond that we’re delivering AI tools and frameworks including cognitive, vision, spatial and object APIs, and the recently announced Project Brainwave, an architecture for deep neural net processing on the edge – all of which partners can use to enable next-generation AI applications and solutions that run on devices.
Modern devices amplify the power of Microsoft 365
Using Microsoft’s programs, platforms and suite of services, our partners are bringing to life a breadth of devices at the intelligent edge that delight customers and empower them to do more.
Microsoft 365 enables people and organizations to embrace the modern culture of work, to be more creative, work together more effectively and have a more productive experience – without sacrificing protection and security. This platform opens the door for new experiences brought to life by great hardware innovations from our partner ecosystem that helps users fluidly go from mouse to keyboard to touch to ink – and beyond, to multi-sense scenarios like voice and vision.
Modern devices from our partners light up Microsoft 365 features. Today at Computex, for the first time, we showed the brand-new HP ProBook x360 440 built for growing businesses and professionals on-the-go. Powered by Windows 10, the ultra-slim device delivers the power, security and durability businesses demand in a versatile 360-degree design. Built-in security from HP BIOSphere Gen4, a firmware ecosystem that automates protection of the BIOS, coupled with Microsoft 365 and an infrared sensor supporting Windows Hello face authentication, provides incredibly strong protection.
Another great device that takes advantage of Microsoft 365 is Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580, beautifully designed with an all-aluminum unibody in a luxurious Deep Dive Blue with Rose Gold detailing. This high-performance laptop isn’t just beautiful, it’s also powerful and able to handle the most demanding tasks with ease, powered by the latest eighth-generation Intel Core processors. The ZenBook Pro series also features Windows Hello capabilities and built-in support for Amazon Alexa voice services, giving users new, smart ways to interact with their laptop.
Last year at Computex we announced a new category of always-connected PCs that partners including, Asus, HP and Lenovo are bringing to market. These devices come with incredible battery life and work like your phone with always-on connectivity. Earlier this week, Qualcomm announced that Samsung is joining us to expand this category of always-connected devices.
A new era needs a new level of trust
This new era represents tremendous opportunity for the ecosystem and comes with a responsibility to ensure that the technologies, devices and solutions we all create are trusted by the individuals and organizations that use them. We also need to ensure everyone can experience technology’s benefits and are inclusive. We all need to work together to ensure privacy, protect the legal rights of people around the world, drive cybersecurity efforts to keep the world safe and take steps to ensure that AI works in ethical and responsible ways.
Every part of our lives, every industry and every sector of our economy is being digitally transformed. There are limitless opportunities for Microsoft partners – from the largest Azure servers to the smallest devices using Azure Sphere and everything in between.
I’m so inspired by the opportunity for innovation that’s made possible by the intelligent cloud, the intelligent edge and AI, and I look forward to the future we’ll build together.