Irish man Ray O’Farrell to head new Internet of Things division in Dell

Dell invests $100m per year in high tech start-ups as part of strategy for technology

Irish man Ray O’Farrell is to head a new IoT (Internet of Things) division within Dell

Irish man Ray O’Farrell is to head a new IoT (Internet of Things) division within Dell


Irish man and VMware chief technology officer Ray O’Farrell is to head a new IoT (Internet of Things) division within Dell, as announced at an industry insiders’ event in New York earlier this week.

As part of its IoT strategy, Scott Darling, president of the company’s investment arm Dell Technologies Capital, told the audience that they were investing $100 million per year on start-ups in the IoT, AI and machine learning space.

Some of these start-ups are targeting novel applications for the Internet of Things. Zingbox, for example, pushes for IoTT or the Internet of Trusted Things, with a focus on protecting networked devices used within hospital and healthcare environments that are often vulnerable to hacking.

May Wang, co-founder and chief technology officer of Zingbox, explained that they use machine learning to monitor traffic patterns of various end devices including x-ray machines and smart pumps delivering precise doses of medication, in order to detect anomalies and prevent the hacking that could result in private information being leaked or in a worst-case scenario, the death of a patient.

Mr Darling went on to hammer home Dell’s place in the IoT market by underlining the importance of hardware to AI and machine learning – developments usually thought about exclusively in terms of software. He went on to namecheck Graphcore, another start-up in the Dell portfolio and one that creates AI semiconductors.

“Hardware with 10 or 100 times the computing power of what is currently possible is what will push these leaps in machine learning and allow for breakthroughs in innovation in areas like autonomous cars and the huge amount of computing power that needs to fit inside these vehicles,” he said.

‘Internet of Everything’

These investments are part of what Michael Dell, founder and chief executive of Dell technologies, said “ultimately will be the Internet of Everything”, before adding that 100 billion connected devices are expected to be installed by 2025. “Then it will be one trillion and we will be awash in all of this rich data.”

“I believe AI and machine learning will be the jet engines of human progress,” he said before going on to explain that Dell is focused on what is known as “edge computing” or the computing and data analysis that happens on site for connected devices from wind turbines to smart buildings.

The latency or time delay involved in sending this data to the cloud for analysis would be too great, said Mr Dell, which is why there is a new focus on AI and machine learning computing abilities at the source of the data.

“We do as much of the heavy lifting as possible at the source of data for better real-time response and security,” explained David King, chief executive of Foghorn Systems, another of Dell Technology Capital’s IoT-focused investments.

Mr Dell came on stage to describe the evolution in computing power from the centralised mainframes of the 1960s to the distributed nature of the web and cloud computing: “The pendulum has swung back to centralised. Some claim that cloud is the final model but a new breed of apps like delivery drones or connected lightbulbs, which require real time response will drive this back to the distributed model. This is distributed core technology and forms the basis of Dell’s IoT strategy,” he told the audience.