Monthly Archives

November 2019

Working towards moving the industry forward together

By Akraino, Akraino Edge Stack, Blog

By Alex Reznik, Chair of MEC ISG, HPE Distinguished Technologist and LF Edge member

This content original ran on the ETSI blog.

Quite some time has passed since my last blog entry, and while I thought about a new blog a number of times, a good topic – i.e. one which is appropriate for discussion in a short, informal and public format – just did not seem to present itself. That’s not for the lack of interest or activity in MEC. 2019 is shaping up to be a critical year in which many operators are now public about their plans for edge computing, initial deployments are appearing and, as expected, holes in what the industry has been working on are beginning to be found (witness the much publicized and excellent Telefonica presentation at last month’s Edge Compute Congress). It’s just that it’s hard to blog about on-going work, even when it is very active, much less about internal efforts of various players in MEC. After all, what would that look like “this is hard and we are working hard on it…”

Nevertheless, the time has come. Those of you who follow my random MEC thoughts on a semi-regular basis might recall the subject of that last post ages ago (I mean in February): the need for both a vibrant Open Source community and Standards development in a space like MEC; and how the two are complimentary in that the focus is, by definition, on complimentary problems. And, if you don’t follow me religiously, here is the link: https://www.etsi.org/newsroom/blogs/entry/do-we-still-need-standards-in-the-age-of-open-source, grab a coffee, tea, a…. whatever … and read up!

In a significant way, that post was in part a response to comments and questions like: “There is a lot of confusion in the market, what’s up with ETSI and Akraino and EdgeXFoundry. You guys all seem to compete.” To that, the post provides a rather direct answer of “no we do not – we address different needs.” However, these related questions often followed: “OK, but how well DO YOU actually work together?” To date, one failing of the various players in MEC space has been the lack of a more convincing answer than “well, we all talk and we are all aware of each other.

That’s now changed in a very significant way. On the heels of a formal cooperation agreement between ETSI and LF Edge (see, e.g. https://www.linuxfoundation.org/press-release/2019/04/etsi-and-the-linux-foundation-sign-memorandum-of-understanding-enabling-industry-standards-and-open-source-collaboration/), the MEC ISG within ETSI and LF Edge’e Akraino project have been working towards moving the industry forward together. The first fruit of this labor is about to ripen – an Akraino Mini-Hackathon, endorsed by ETSI, to be held in San Diego the day before KubeCon.

This event was designed to highlight the work Akraino is doing in putting forward solutions which take advantage of ETSI’s Standards, and to allow developers an experience in developing for MEC. The most notable thing about this Hackathon is the model of cooperation – Akraino (and Open Source community) provides implementations to the industry, while the use of ETSI MEC (Standards Org.) standards ensures interoperability across other standards-compliant implementations.

So… that’s it then. We have arrived at a working, standardized solution for MEC, right??? Well, no. If you are looking for that, the mini-hackathon will sorely disappoint you. However, it is a step – an important first step in a growing cooperation between two organizations which should be, over time delivering those operational, standardized components for MEC. The work ahead of ETSI MEC and Akraino is significant, and much of it will lack opportunities for fanfare – as work in our industry often does. Still, there will be more coming from our two organization, so stay tuned…

EdgeX Foundry F2F: Sun, Community and Code

By Blog, EdgeX Foundry

By Jim White, Co-Chair of the EdgeX Foundry Technical Steering Committee and CTO of IOTech Systems

Earlier this month, the EdgeX Foundry Technical Steering Committee (TSC) met in Phoenix, Arizona to finalize our Fuji release (due out at the end of this week – November 15th) and scope the effort of our next release – code named Geneva – that we expect to release in the spring of 2020.  While officially this was a TSC meeting, we are an open project and always invite our developer community to participate in the discussions and planning effort whenever possible.

Hosted by Intel in downtown Phoenix, this season’s meeting was attended by more than 60 people in person and another dozen on line – our largest meeting yet.  Intel did a fabulous job of providing a great meeting space and allowing the community to enjoy the surrounds of the Phoenix area.  If they were responsible for the picture-perfect weather, they couldn’t have made it any nicer!  80 degrees and sunny each day.

Fuji is the community’s fifth release of EdgeX and a minor dot release (version 1.1) to our 1.0 Edinburgh release launched this past spring.  We have developed a well-established cadence that is two years in the making.  We have two releases a year (spring and fall) with the planning of the next release right on the heels of completed release.

If you are wondering what is in Fuji that is about to be released, the highlights of this release include:

  • New and improved security services – fully integrated with existing micro services (API Gateway, secure storage)
  • Application services and application functions SDK as full replacements for older export services (we expect to deprecate the export services with the next release)
  • System management improvements to include ability to set configuration
  • Improved testing and quality assurance procedures and tools
  • Addition of an many more device services (actually to be released independently in mid-December with the device service SDK release).

The fact that Fuji is a dot release on top of our 1.0 release is an important.  As the project matures and stabilizes, more companies are building products on top of EdgeX and the community wanted to provide them with affirmation that EdgeX is fit for purpose without changing everything each release – while still adding new features in a way that supports backward compatibility.  Companies like IOTech, Beechwoods, RSA and others (see https://www.edgexfoundry.org/edgex-in-market/) continue to leverage EdgeX and need the stability in order to avoid lots of thrashing each six months.  ObjectBox is releasing their version of core EdgeX services (replacements for the EdgeX reference implementation of these services) that incorporate their embedded database with Fuji this month to coincide with the EdgeX release.  These are prime examples of the community that now rely on EdgeX Foundry.

Looking ahead – what’s in the Geneva release?  Based on our planning this past week, Geneva will be version 2.0 – a major release.  It will include many new features and some changes.  Specifically, the Geneva release will feature:

  • Automatic and dynamic device/sensor provisioning and on-boarding – allowing for more zero touch deployments
  • Interoperability testing – allowing the community and users to get a better appreciation that all the micro services are working together properly
  • Replacing the reference implementation rules engine service – the last of the legacy EdgeX Java micro services (allowing the footprint of the overall system to be significantly reduced)
  • Use of Redis as the default reference implementation database (replacing MongoDB)
  • Improved security services (more secret store usage, per service token use, token revocation/expiration/rotation)
  • User guidance on platform needs (more performance statistics, number of devices allowed per service/EdgeX instance recommendations, platform and hardware recommendations per edge use case)
  • Exploration of an alternate message support (offering an alternative to Zero MQ)
  • Archive of Export Services (the new Application Services and App Functions SDK taking its place)
  • Use of Jenkins Pipelines to improve and enhance our CI/CD processes
  • A refactor of the EdgeX APIs to provide more flexible and more nimble request and response bodies in the message exchange, which should improve testing and improve some performance aspects
  • A number of system and sub-system designs are also forecast to be completed with this release. These designs are pre-cursor work toward the Hanoi (fall 2020) and beyond releases

It’s starting to look like winter outside in the northern hemisphere.  Holiday season right around the corner.  EdgeX is heating up.  Good time to stay inside and curl up next to EdgeX and try out the latest features and explore the future roadmap.  Come join the fastest growing open source edge platform project.

LF Edge Member Spotlight: ZEDEDA

By Blog, Project EVE

The LF Edge community is comprised of a diverse set of member companies that represent the IoT, Enterprise, Cloud and Telco Edge. The Member Spotlight blog series highlights these members and how they are contributing to and leveraging open source edge solutions. Today, we sat down with Aaron Williams, Developer Community Lead, and Erik Nordmark, Chief Architect and Co-Founder, at ZEDEDA to discuss the importance of a growing ecosystem, their IoT framework, the impact LF Edge has made and what the future holds for the company.

Can you tell us a little about your organization?

ZEDEDA delivers visibility, control, and security to enterprise IoT and edge deployments through edge virtualization. Ours is the only cloud service for edge management built on the open sourced Edge Virtualization Engine (EVE). By bringing virtualization to the edge, we allow businesses to deploy and manage any application on any hardware and connect to any cloud, breaking down IT silos and simplifying IoT strategies. Customers can easily dropship gateways at distributed sites without needing on-site IT expert personnel, and can launch greenfield and brownfield applications at scale with a single click of a button. 

With ZEDEDA, organizations easily eliminate the complexity of today’s IoT solutions at the edge and gain deeper insights into their operations by more effectively leveraging sensor data, including through AI-powered analysis in the cloud.

Why is your organization adopting an open source approach?

Today at the edge, there is a heterogeneous mix of hardware and applications, which makes it difficult to coordinate an IoT strategy and make the most out of all the available data. As a result, many enterprises can become mired in vendor lock-in. Embracing open standards gives the whole community a common foundation to work from, increasing interoperability, lowering the barriers to entry in this space, and promoting innovation. 

ZEDEDA adopted open source right from the beginning because we saw the value in providing a shared standard for edge virtualization technology. We think of it as being similar to what Android did for mobile phones, in terms of creating a single template for developers to follow that then ensures operability across a variety of hardware. Additionally, by making EVE open to community contributions, we’re committing to building the best possible solution with experts around the world.

Why did you join LF Edge and what sort of impact do you think LF Edge has on the edge, networking, and IoT industries?

The reason why we joined LF Edge is simple: we believe that the fastest route to innovation and success in edge computing is by working together with other companies to create universal standards that we can all build off of. It’s been a great opportunity to come together with like-minded organizations, contribute our expertise, and work collaboratively to build the best ecosystem possible for the future of edge computing. By hosting several key open source projects and making them available to the community, LF Edge is making it simpler for the industry at large to adopt IoT strategies as part of their IT portfolios. We believe that the rising tide will lift all boats, so to speak.

What do you see as the top benefits of being part of the LF Edge community?

There are many benefits of being part of this community. For one thing, it allows us to be at the table with other edge companies (both large and small) so that we can help shape the future of the edge in a way that benefits everyone. It also provides a learning opportunity when we all come together to better understand the different parts of the edge stack. Additionally, building our solution on top of code (EVE) that is open sourced through the Linux Foundation helps give our customers confidence that we’re working to the highest technical standards. Truly, we feel that we receive much more than we give as active participants in LF Edge.

What business/industry problems are you collaboratively working to solve?

Current solutions for edge deployments often leave several challenges unaddressed, and these are all problems that we help to solve with EVE and the ZEDEDA controller. For instance, typical edge management software has little-to-no interoperability, meaning that customers are locked into using a limited number of compatible apps, hardware, or clouds. By contrast, one of the main benefits of building our solution on top of the open-sourced EVE is that it gives all vendors a common foundation to work from: as long as their apps and APIs are compatible with EVE, they can run on any EVE-approved hardware. In the same vein, modern hardware and firmware isn’t generally suited to run legacy applications; however, many businesses still rely on legacy apps as a key part of their technology stack. By making use of virtual machines (VMs), edge virtualization allows legacy and modern apps to co-exist seamlessly on the same device. Security is also a critical part of edge deployments, with traditional solutions leaving businesses exposed to many vulnerabilities. By managing their edge deployments with EVE and the ZEDEDA controller, companies can mitigate against many of these vulnerabilities: EVE ensures that the device and data traveling to and from it is secure by leveraging the hardware root of trust, and the controller makes it easy to keep firmware and applications up-to-date with the latest software patches rolled out with a single push of a button.

 

What sort of contributions has your team made to the community, ecosystem through LF Edge participation?

ZEDEDA has been a major contributor to the Project EVE code base. In addition, we have worked hard to encourage our hardware and software partners to contribute their expertise to build out the hardware devices that EVE runs on.

How will LF Edge help your business?

Building on top of LF Edge’s Project EVE allows us to concentrate on what separates us from our competitors, secure in the knowledge that the foundation of our technology is solid. It also gives our customers confidence in our solution because it is built on code that meets the Linux Foundation’s high standard of technical excellence.

Can you give us an example of your LF Edge project in production and what problem it is solving?

A good example of EVE in production can be found on wind turbine farms. The operators of these farms face many challenges, including that the farms are remote, complex, expensive to maintain, and very large. There is limited IT staff on site, and a truck roll to do unscheduled maintenance can cost over $100,000. At the same time, downtime can cost $1,000 to $2,000 per day, which means that it is very important to the operators to have as much uptime as possible, but avoid unplanned maintenance.   

EVE works in conjunction with the ZEDEDA cloud-based controller to allow the operators to overcome these challenges. With EVE shipped on the device, the operator can take advantage of zero-touch provisioning and having a single pane through which to manage all devices. Since EVE is open sourced and works across a variety of hardware devices, the operator has the freedom of updating the hardware for new installs without making the previous installs obsolete. And with the 100% visibility and remote control of the devices, they are able to update their applications on the edge from anywhere at anytime.    

Project EVE Wind Turbine Demo Video by ZEDEDA

What advice would you give to someone considering joining LF Edge?

To borrow from Nike, “just do it.” Being a member of LF Edge allows you to be part of the conversation that is shaping the IoT revolution.  The Edge is too big and too complex of an industry for any one company to dominate, so the only way to create common standards and functionality is by working together. If you are not part of the LF Edge, you will be continually following the cutting “edge” of Edge development!  

 

Edge Computing at IoT Solutions World Congress 2019

By Blog, EdgeX Foundry, Home Edge, Project EVE

Every year one of the world’s largest Internet of Things trade shows, IoT Solutions World Congress, is held in Barcelona, Spain. It brings together device manufacturers, service providers, AI & ML companies and solutions integrators from around the world to share information about their products and the state of IoT ecosystems. Filling multiple convention halls at the Fira Barcelona center, and featuring the biggest names in IoT and technology, you can spend days walking the expo hall and talking to vendors.

Crowd at the LF Edge Booth

This wasn’t the first time the EdgeX Foundry has had a booth at IOTSWC, but this year they were joined by other LF Edge projects, specifically Home Edge and Project EVE, to present solutions across the edge landscape. Our booth was staffed by project contributors from all over the world, from the US and Europe to India and Taiwan, and featured real world examples of the open source technology that is being developed under the LF Edge umbrella.  Not only did our members get a chance to learn about each other’s projects during this time, they were able to explain those other projects to the visitors to our booth. It was truly a community coming together to support and promote the LF Edge as a whole.

EdgeX Smart Building Demo EVE deployments on a wind turbine

We spoke with thousands of people over the 3 days of conference, and gave countless demonstrations. One notable change in conversations from a year ago is that most attendees we spoke to this year already knew and understood the importance of edge computing, and were looking for specific solutions to the problems that they are now facing. And while many vendors at the show offered some of these solutions, only the LF Edge projects offered open, vendor agnostic platforms that prevent lock-in and promote an ecosystem of 3rd party development around commonly developed core.

Selfie of the LF Edge booth staffIf you missed us at IOTSWC, you can join our projects online where we have a public Slack, mailing lists and host our meetings in the open. You can also look for us at events in 2020!