Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Wednesday, December 2, 2020
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FedEx Enlists Dell, Switch for Logistics Hub 

Global shipper FedEx Corp. is upgrading its logistics infrastructure through a multi-cloud and edge computing partnership with Dell Technologies and data center operator Switch Inc.

The cloud partnership announced by Dell (NYSE: DELL) this week would help FedEx (NSYE: FDX) deploy a “technology hub” built around multi-cloud services and edge computing deployments. Moving those resources closer to FedEx distribution centers would enable greater automation while supporting low-latency enterprise applications.

Those edge infrastructures services include processing, storage and connectivity to the network edge to enable enterprise applications requiring low latency.

The edge services technology hub also will incorporate AI, machine learning and 5G wireless capabilities, the partners said Thursday (Nov. 12).

Multiple cloud platforms will be linked via Switch’s edge data centers and Dell’s cloud infrastructure. The first hub will be located at FedEx headquarters in Memphis, Tenn. The hubs will then be extended to other FedEx locations across the country.

While Switch (NYSE: SWCH) provides edge data center infrastructure to the multi-cloud technology, its exascale data centers will run Dell servers and hyperconverged infrastructure along with storage and networking platforms. FedEx will provide real estate and pick up some of the construction costs.

Among the goals is applying edge computing and multi-cloud access to upgrade global supply chains. The pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in global supply chains, prompting shippers like FedEx to upgrade and secure their operations.

“These deployments will provide low latency access to high-density compute from FedEx operational locations,” Dell said in announcing the technology hub initiative.

“In working with FedEx and Switch, we can create a more local cloud-based environment, offering customers faster access to their workloads and data for greater flexibility and speed,” said John Roese, Dell’s global chief technology officer.

FedEx, which ships about 16 million packages daily, is shifting more delivery data processing to the edge via multi-cloud deployments to support its automation efforts, added Rob Carter, chief information officer at FedEx.

Switch operates exascale data centers in Atlanta and Grand Rapids, Mich., along with Las Vegas and the Tahoe-Reno region of Nevada.

Industry analysts note that the FedEx hub deployment extends Dell’s edge strategy. “The overall strategy spans cloud, client, infrastructure and service provider,” noted Will Townsend of Moor Insights & Strategy.

The company’s hyper-scale infrastructure includes “the traditional centralized data center but scales out to support microDCs and nanoDCs for edge applications,” Townsend added.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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