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Amazon opens Greengrass to all IoT users

Steve Rogerson
June 15, 2017
Amazon Web Services’ Greengrass Linux runtime software, which lets users run AWS compute, messaging, data caching and sync capabilities on connected devices, is now available to all its customers.
With Greengrass, devices can run AWS Lambda functions to perform tasks locally, keep device data in sync, and communicate with other devices while leveraging the processing, analytics and storage power of the AWS cloud.
More than a dozen AWS partners, including Annapurna, BSquare, Canonical, Digi, Intel, Lenovo, Mongoose, Qualcomm, Raspberry Pi, Samsung, Technicolor and Wistron, are integrating Greengrass into their platforms so devices will come with it built-in.
With the proliferation of IoT devices, enterprises are increasingly managing infrastructure that is not located in a data centre, such as connected devices in factories, oil wells, agricultural fields, hospitals and cars. Because these devices often have limited processing power and memory, many rely heavily on the cloud for processing, analytics and storage.
However, there are circumstances when relying exclusively on the cloud isn’t optimal due to latency requirements or intermittent connectivity that make a round trip to the cloud unfeasible. In these situations, IoT devices must be able to perform some tasks locally. Programming and updating software functionality on IoT devices is challenging and complex. Relatively few developers have the expertise to update these embedded systems, and even fewer can do so without creating unwanted downtime.
Greengrass is said to eliminate the complexity involved in programming and updating IoT devices by allowing customers to use AWS Lambda to run code locally on connected devices in the same way they do on the AWS cloud. With Greengrass, developers can add Lambda functions to connected devices right from the AWS management console, and devices can execute the code locally, responding to events and taking actions in near real time.
Greengrass also includes IoT messaging and synching capabilities so devices can send messages to other devices without connecting back to the cloud. It allows users the flexibility to have devices rely on the cloud when it makes sense, perform tasks on their own and talk to each other all in one seamless environment.
“Many of the world’s largest IoT implementations run on AWS, and customers across industries – from energy, to mining, to media and entertainment – have asked us whether we could extend AWS’s industry leading cloud capabilities to the edge,” said Dirk Didascalou, vice president of IoT at AWS. “By embedding AWS Lambda and IoT capabilities in connected devices, Greengrass gives customers the flexibility to have devices act locally on the data they generate while using the AWS cloud for management, analytics and storage – all using a single, familiar AWS programming model. We are excited to make Greengrass available to all AWS customers, and with AWS partners shipping Greengrass-capable devices it is now incredibly easy to build and run IoT applications that seamlessly span devices on the edge and in the AWS cloud.”
Power company Enel is the largest utility in Europe in terms of market capitalisation and has the largest customer base among its European peers with over 65 million customers worldwide.
"Connected devices improve all aspects of our daily lives, from the smart meters in our homes that help us save energy, to the black boxes in our cars that show us how we’re driving, to the stoplights with sensors that monitor traffic,” said Fabio Veronese, head of technological services at Enel. "Enel is building Greengrass-enabled smart gateways for the home and industrial gateways for our power generation sites, where Greengrass will allow us to process and act on large volumes of data with sub-millisecond latency."
Finland-based Konecranes is a group of lifting businesses, serving a broad range of customers, including manufacturing and process industries, shipyards, ports, and terminals.
“Konecranes is leading the way in industrial internet of things with over 15,000 connected cranes and thousands more on the way this year,” said Juha Pankakoski, executive vice president at Konecranes. “We have already been using AWS IoT to build Truconnect, a digital crane platform, and the addition of Greengrass will help us take the development to the edge. We see Greengrass as the enabler for a new set of digital services, allowing us to programme and deliver software to equipment in a secure manner and without risking operational safety. This supports well our aim to build the next generation of lifting as the leading technology company in our industry.”
Industrial equipment company Pentair is another Greengrass user.
"Some of Pentair’s aquaculture customers are located in remote geographies with unreliable internet connections, and industry regulations restrict which data points can leave their physical premises," said Phil Rolchigo, vice president at Pentair. " Greengrass will enable our devices to behave consistently no matter the level of connectivity in their operating environment, while allowing us to take advantage of the AWS cloud for machine learning and big data analytics."
Rio Tinto is a global mining group that focuses on finding, mining and processing mineral resources.
"Rio Tinto operates mining equipment in some of the most extreme environments on earth, where connectivity can be unreliable and road conditions can cause production delays, equipment damage and potentially put people at risk," said Brian Oldham, vice president at Rio Tinto. “Greengrass allows us to measure road roughness and process the data locally to make our haul trucks operate more safely and efficiently, regardless of network coverage. We saw results from equipment in the field only two weeks after deploying the service, and the potential value it can bring to our operations. We’re evaluating additional use cases for Greengrass in other areas.”
Stanley Black & Decker’s digital accelerator is the company’s innovation arm in charge of infusing digital capabilities across all products, process, and business models.
"Stanley Black & Decker’s digital accelerator has selected Greengrass as one of the standards for edge computing and edge analytics across our entire portfolio of products,” said Yasir Qureshi, director at Stanley Black & Decker. “Greengrass improves the efficiency of our tools by eliminating the latency of transmitting the data to the cloud and instead processing breaking and maintenance data locally for improved jobsite productivity. Additionally, the single programming model between the AWS cloud and local devices enables us to significantly shorten our development lifecycle and make our equipment smarter and faster."
Canonical produces Ubuntu and offers commercial services for Ubuntu's users.
“Greengrass will enable more customers and developers to realise the benefit of processing and analysing data at the edge,” said Mike Bell, executive vice president at Canonical. “By distributing and installing Greengrass as a snap, the universal Linux packaging format, developers can reduce the time and complexity of building smart edge solutions across new and existing hardware. Using snaps, manufacturers will not only find it easier to build IoT devices, but to monetise smart developer solutions running on the AWS IoT platform.”
Jonathan Ballon, vice president at chip company Intel, added: "Many IoT use cases demand a distributed computing architecture at the edge, close to where the data are generated. Greengrass running on Intel technology delivers a secure, intelligent edge that allows developers to easily create new applications from edge to cloud."
The Raspberry Pi Foundation provides low-cost, high-performance computers that people use to learn, solve problems and have fun.
"Raspberry Pi is part of a movement of organisations and individuals that share a common goal: empowering people to shape their world through digital technologies," said David Thompson, director of web services at the Raspberry Pi Foundation. "Greengrass extends the capabilities of the AWS cloud to the Raspberry Pi, making it easier than ever for anyone to build the next great connected product."
Qualcomm Technologies pioneered 3G and 4G and is now working on 5G and a new era of intelligent, connected devices, including automotive, computing, IoT, healthcare and data centres.
"The next generation of IoT devices and gateways depends on high-performance edge capabilities tightly integrated with the cloud," said Jeffery Torrance, vice president at Qualcomm Technologies. "Developers and manufacturers can use Greengrass to take greater advantage of the connectivity, compute and security capabilities delivered by Qualcomm Technologies' system-on-chip platforms to build edge solutions that tap into the power of AWS IoT. Thanks to our strong work with AWS, prototyping and developing on Qualcomm Technologies' platforms using Greengrass can start today."