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Linux Foundation forms open source project for IoT edge computing

Steve Rogerson
April 27, 2017
 
At this week’s Hannover Messe, the Linux Foundation announced EdgeX Foundry, an open source project to build a common open framework for IoT edge computing and an ecosystem of interoperable components to unify the marketplace and accelerate enterprise and industrial IoT.
 
The initiative is aligned around a common goal: the simplification and standardisation of industrial IoT edge computing, while still allowing the ecosystem to add significant value.
 
The IoT is delivering significant business value by improving efficiencies and increasing revenue through automation and analytics, but widespread fragmentation and the lack of a common IoT framework are hindering broad adoption and stalling market growth. The complexity of the current landscape and the wide variety of components creates paralysis. EdgeX aims to solve this by making it easier to create quickly IoT edge products that have the flexibility to adapt to changing business needs.
 
"Success in the internet of things is dependent on having a healthy ecosystem that can deliver interoperability and drive digital transformation," said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation. "EdgeX Foundry is aligning market leaders around a common framework, which will drive IoT adoption and enable businesses to focus on developing innovative use cases that impact the bottom line."
 
EdgeX Foundry is unifying the marketplace around a common open framework and building an ecosystem of companies offering interoperable plug-and-play components. Designed to run on any hardware or operating system and with any combination of application environments, EdgeX can deliver interoperability between connected devices, applications, and services, across a wide range of use cases. Interoperability between community-developed software will be maintained through a certification programme.
 
Dell is seeding EdgeX Foundry with its Fuse source code base under Apache 2.0. The contribution consists of more than a dozen microservices and over 125,000 lines of code, and was architected with feedback from hundreds of technology providers and end users to facilitate interoperability between existing connectivity standards and commercial value-add such as edge analytics, security, system management and services.
 
"We think EdgeX Foundry is the key to accelerating the fragmented IoT market and are proud to have been a part of the effort from the beginning," said Jason Shepherd, IoT strategy manager at Dell. "We're big believers in openness and choice, and this modular architecture is designed to help anyone easily build edge computing with preferred hardware, software, standards and services while minimising reinvention. EdgeX Foundry is not a new standard, but a way to unify standards and edge applications."
 
This is complemented by the recent merger of the IoTX project into the EdgeX effort, which was previously supported by EdgeX Foundry members including Two Bulls and Beechwoods Software. Additional supporting code contributions by EdgeX members are already underway.
 
"One of the key factors holding back IoT designs in the enterprise is that there are too many choices to safely and easily implement a system that will provide a return on investment in a reasonable timeframe," said Mike Krell, lead IoT analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. "EdgeX Foundry will fundamentally change the market dynamic by allowing enterprise IoT applications to choose from a myriad of best-in-class software, hardware and services providers based on their specific needs."
 
Founding members include Advanced Micro Devices, Alleantia, Analog Devices, Bayshore Networks, Beechwoods Software, Canonical, ClearBlade, CloudPlugs, Cloud of Things, Cumulocity, Davra Networks, Dell, Device Authority, Eigen Innovations, EpiSensor, FogHorn Systems, ForgeRock, Great Bay Software, IMS Evolve, IoTech, IoTium, KMC Controls, Kodaro, Linaro, MachineShop, Mobiliya, Mocana, Modius, NetFoundry, Neustar, Opto 22, Relayr, RevTwo, RF Micron, Sight Machine, SoloInsight, Striim, Switch Automation, Two Bulls, V5 Systems, Vantiq, VMware and ZingBox. Industry affiliate members include Cloud Foundry Foundation, EnOcean Alliance, Mainflux, Object Management Group, Project Haystack and ULE Alliance.
 
"This strategic partnership with EdgeX Foundry is part of our commitment to playing a major role in helping customers bridge the physical and digital world through the IoT," said Michael Murray, general manager at Analog Devices. "We want to reduce complexity, democratise IoT standards and provide trusted data for customers, and we look forward to working with the EdgeX community to achieve those goals."
 
Edge computing is ideal for deploying IoT applications because it allows for quicker data analytics and reduced network traffic. This is essential for applications that require localised, real-time data analysis for decision making, such as factory optimisation, predictive maintenance, remote asset management, building automation, fleet management and logistics.
 
"Businesses currently have to invest a lot of time and energy into developing their own edge computing, before they can even deploy the IoT to address business challenges," said Philip DesAutels, senior director of IoT at the Linux Foundation. "EdgeX will foster an ecosystem of interoperable components from a variety of vendors, so that resources can be spent on driving business value instead of combining and integrating IoT components."
 
Adopting an open source edge software platform benefits the entire IoT ecosystem:

  • End users can deploy IoT edge products quickly and easily with the flexibility to adapt dynamically to changing business needs;
  • Hardware manufacturers can scale faster with an interoperable partner ecosystem and more robust security and system management;
  • Independent software vendors can benefit from interoperability with third party applications and hardware without reinventing connectivity;
  • Sensor and device makers can write an application-level device driver with a selected protocol once using the SDK and get pull from all providers; and
  • System integrators can get to market faster with plug-and-play ingredients combined with their own proprietary inventions.
The Linux Foundation will establish a governance and membership structure for EdgeX Foundry to nurture a vibrant technical community. A governing board will guide business decisions, marketing and ensure alignment between the technical communities and members. The technical steering committee will provide leadership on the code and guide the technical direction of the project.
 
"We have been pushing the need for standardisation and commonality in the industry for a long time; the introduction of snaps being one example,” said Mike Bell, executive vice president at Canonical. “We are therefore pleased to see a continuation of this with the launch of the EdgeX Foundry and proud to be one of the founding members. We are obviously advocates of the open-source nature of the project and believe this will further enhance all players in the ecosystem to align to drive business growth and further innovation."
 
Hank Skorny, SVP of IoT at Neustar,” added: "As a leading provider of identity solutions we are excited to be a founding member of the Linux Foundation's EdgeX Foundry project. We are firmly committed to open and common frameworks for developers, and we are particularly excited to provide a highly secure trusted device identity solution for this ecosystem. EdgeX combined with Neustar's Trusted Device Identity platform will provide developers with a next generation IoT solution to help secure their IoT systems from the escalating attacks on unsecured devices."
 
EdgeX Foundry is collaborating with relevant open source projects, standards groups and industry alliances to ensure consistency and interoperability across the IoT.
 
"The goals and principles of EdgeX Foundry and Cloud Foundry naturally complement each other," said Abby Kearns, executive director of Cloud Foundry Foundation. "We look forward to working with EdgeX Foundry to enable companies to deploy IoT strategies and applications that accelerate business growth and drive innovation."
 
Graham Martin, CEO of the EnOcean Alliance, added: "The growing market for intelligent building control is dependent on interoperability to ensure that devices can communicate and perform as needed. We look forward to working with EdgeX Foundry to help unify the IoT community around a platform that can deliver automation and enable companies to easily develop IoT solutions that will enable more efficient operations."
 
And Matt Locke, director of the Linaro IoT & Embedded (Lite) group, said: "This much needed unifying project will allow vendors to define and build a common gateway platform; a platform upon which they can build unique and compelling solutions across a wide range of market segments."