Welcome California!

By July 19, 2018 January 23rd, 2019 Blog, EdgeX Foundry

Written by Jim White, Vice Chair of the Technical Steering Committee and Distinguished Engineer and Project Lead of the IoT Platform Development Team within Dell Technologies IoT Solutions Division

The second major release of EdgeX Foundry is now available!

While EdgeX is only a year old, our community is demonstrating its staying power with the second major release in its first year.  The California release, which follows Barcelona, shows the commitment and dedication of many who see the importance and potential of developing a flexible, open source, IoT software platform for the edge that provides connectivity and interoperability while still allowing value add.

So, what is new with the California release?  A lot! But before we get into the details, I want to highlight that the biggest focus of this release was to introduce a few key security capabilities and to make EdgeX smaller and faster.

Security

EdgeX began its existence without security and organizations wanting to leverage the platform had to add their own security capability. Today, EdgeX incorporates some of the first security elements.  These initial elements, while useful on their own, are essential building blocks to additional security features in the future.

The first security elements include a reverse proxy that helps protect the REST API communications and a secrets store.  With the EdgeX reverse proxy in place – as provided by incorporating an open source product called Kong – any external client of an EdgeX micro service must first authenticate themselves before successfully calling on an EdgeX API.

The secure storage facility was provided by incorporating the open source Vault (Hashicorp) product, and it allows items such as username/password credentials, certificates, secure tokens, etc. to be persisted and protected within EdgeX.  These types of “secrets” will allow EdgeX to, for example, encrypt data, make HTTPS calls to the enterprise, or connect EdgeX to a cloud provider in a secure manner.

Performance and Scalability

The EdgeX Foundry Technical Steering Committee decided early last year in the project’s formation that we would release twice a year – once in April and once in October.  You probably noticed that it’s not April.

Last year, we decided that EdgeX needed to be smaller and faster to better function effectively at “the edge”, which the largely-Java code from the seed donation was going to make difficult. To do this, we needed to rebuild the EdgeX microservices in Go Lang – and do so by our spring 2018 release.  This was not a small endeavor and it was made at a time when the EdgeX Foundry developer community was just coming on board.  We knew it would take a bit more time, but we were committed to this, and added two more months to this release cycle.

The extra time was well worth it!  With the California release, we’ve dramatically lowered the footprint, startup time, memory and CPU usage. Take a look at the statistics below, which compares services from our first community release last October (Barcelona) to our current release (California).

We still have work to do, but it’s now possible to run all of EdgeX on something like a Raspberry Pi 3.

Additional Features

In addition to the initial security capabilities and reducing the size and latency of the platform, this release includes other work – some visible to the user while some features are more hidden but improve the overall quality of EdgeX.

  • Several additions were made to the export services to provide additional “northbound” connectivity, to include connectors for XMPP, ThingsBoard IoT, and Brightics IoT
  • We improved the documentation and now have documentation stored with the code in Github – allowing it to be maintained and updated more like code by the community
  • Arm 64 is now fully supported.  In fact we worked with the Linux Foundation to add external environments and tools to create native Arm 64 artifacts.
  • We added blackbox tests for all the micro services.  These are now kicked off as part of our build and continuous integration processes.
  • Other improvements were made to our continuous integration – to help streamline developer contributions

We invite you to try out the California release today (Docker Compose file here)!  

On to Delhi

Our next release, named Delhi, will come out in October 2018.  Due to the extended release cycle for California, the Delhi release cycle is going to be short. The significant features planned for Delhi include:

  • Initial manageability services and capability
  • Device Service SDKs (Go/C) and at least one example device service
  • The next wave of security features to include access control lists to grant access to appropriate services and improved security service bootstrapping
  • Better/more unit testing and added performance testing
  • Adding the last of the refactored and improved Go Lang microservices
  • Outlining options and a potential implementation plan for alternate or additional database support
  • An EdgeX UI suitable for demos and smaller installations

Come join us!

We would like to thank the talented men and women who are working very hard to turn the vision announced when the EdgeX project launched in April 2017 into the product we see emerge and improve with each release.  In the past six months, we have seen the number of unique authors contributing to the project code base double to more than 50. We hope you’ll consider joining our growing development community to build on this momentum by contributing to the Delhi release as well as using EdgeX in your edge/IoT solutions!

If you have questions or comments, visit the EdgeX Rocket.Chat and share your thoughts in the #community channel.