What Are the Use Cases for Dent?

I Stock 1179987619

By: Mary Jander

The following Tech Primer is sponsored by The Linux Foundation.

Enterprise information technology (IT) is undergoing a tectonic shift. Remote work, improved mobile services, and cloud environments have extended business applications to the edge of the corporate network. Field offices, retail stores, warehouses, hospitals, hotels, and other facilities are now essential focal points in distributed applications that are critical to the success of a variety of industries.

This is the environment for which The Linux Foundation created Dent, a vendor-agnostic network operating system (NOS) capable of running on any Linux server, switch, or silicon platform. Dent’s lightweight design uses the Linux Kernel to transmit data selectively across any Ethernet connection. And the NOS’s open-source status gives users the freedom not just to save costs on hardware and software, but to add features and functions as needed to achieve optimal business results.

For more on the basic structure, history, and mission of Dent, see Futuriom’s Tech Primer, “What Is Dent?” In this follow-up Tech Primer, we will explore the various use cases for Dent, which illustrate its role as a more efficient and cost-effective alternative to data center switching gear that can be too large, too complex, and too expensive for remote sites with limited space and technological expertise.


Retail stores typically have small wiring closets, and branch-office solutions from incumbent data center suppliers can require costly contracts and training to run optimally. Customizing or adjusting this equipment can force costs even higher. With Dent, white-box hardware can be used as an alternative. Dent can be loaded onto lower-cost switches and/or servers as easily as dropping in the Linux operating system. Using wireless Ethernet or WiFi connections, IoT sensors and access points can gather information on inventory, keep shelves stocked, track customer activity, and ensure that accounts are up to date, as illustrated in the diagram below:


In warehouses, as in retail facilities, inventory is tightly controlled. Shelves must be kept stocked, and ingoing and outgoing goods tracked. But there may be greater physical distances to span within a warehouse than in a store, as well as a greater number of intermediate distribution frames (IDFs) and wiring closets. Dent scales easily in these environments because it is lightweight in terms of hardware as well as software. And Dent’s IoT-friendly architecture makes it ideal for tracking stock and keeping accounts updated.


The pandemic spurred hospitals, urgent care centers, and other medical facilities to accelerate projects that streamline certain aspects of medical care to improve patient success. Dent’s small size and compact functioning suit it for use with temperature-sensing kiosks, record-keeping applications, virtualized patient consultations, and online medical resources for healthcare professionals.


Dent frees up staff to improve hotel and motel guest experiences by controlling IoT devices that manage tasks such as issuing security keys, monitoring heat and air conditioning, and tracking the stocking of restrooms and minibars. The result is a more efficient, cost-effective facility that can attract and accommodate more satisfied guests.


The shift to remote work that began with the COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of reversal. Instead, it’s clear that home offices and “work from home (WFH)” are a new normal. As a result, companies have had to focus on how best to bring small locations securely into the realm of the enterprise cloud. With Dent, this can be achieved without the heavy lifting required of traditional branch office or regional office equipment. Instead, Dent can be installed on small switches or servers, and security functions, including zero trust network access (ZTNA), can be added as needed to link remote users to the enterprise network, as illustrated below:

Use Case #6: 5G

Wireless 5G services will substantially improve the performance of Internet of Things (IoT) applications at the network edge. To tap the advantages of 5G, Dent users can deploy small, white-box hubs and switches along with sensors, cameras, or robotic solutions. Extraneous data can be filtered and only relevant information sent to the cloud. This reduces the cost of networking, including ingress and egress charges for cloud usage. A typical scenario is shown in the diagram below:

The Future for DENT

Dent’s market potential is enormous. According to Statista, more than 25 billion IoT devices will be in use worldwide by 2030. And according to Grand View Research, the total market for retail IoT in 2020 was $31.99 billion and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26% from 2021 to 2028. With its lightweight design and adaptability at the network edge, DENT stands to advance these growing markets.

Dent will be active in the areas we’ve outlined above. But other opportunities will emerge, particularly as robotic gear, sensors, and cameras become more sophisticated and adoption spreads at the network edge. And Dent itself is continually being improved by the enormous community of developers dedicated to its ongoing evolution under the rubric of The Linux Foundation. Expect many more use cases and applications.

Find out how Dent lowers costs and can improve your networking infrastructure immediately. Download here