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July 2020

EdgeX Foundry – Delivering choice, flexibility, and collaboration at the IOT Edge

By Blog, EdgeX Foundry

Written by Keith Steele, CEO of IOTech Systems

After 3 years, I step down as the chair of the EdgeX Foundry Technical Steering Committee later this month. When I took on the role, I believed Open Software Platforms were fundamental to the success of edge computing and supported that view by backing EdgeX Foundry and starting IOTech. Today, with more than 6 million downloads, and many customer deployments later, both EdgeX and IOTech are strong. As we enter the next phase, here are my reflections and thoughts about where we go next…

From little acorns…..EdgeX Foundry

EdgeX Foundry was launched at Hannover Messe in April 2017 as an open source project hosted by The Linux Foundation. With this as a backdrop, we held our first project meeting in Boston in June 2017 and companies were invited to participate in creating EdgeX as an industrial IoT global edge software platform standard.

There were about 60 of us who showed up in person from all around the world, and even more joined by phone. We set our vision at this meeting and formed the EdgeX Technical Steering Committee to deliver that vision.

For the first 2 years, the team set about turning what was effectively a platform demonstrator project into a deployable product, including a complete rewrite of the code from Java into GO and C to reduce footprint and improve latency, critical requirements for edge-based systems. This culminated in the Edinburgh release in June 2019, when we announced to the world, we were satisfied the quality was sufficient to support deployed systems. Up to that point we had promoted EdgeX for use for pilot only implementations.

The Fundamentals

There are several fundamental technical and business tenets we set out so solve with EdgeX Foundry:

Open vs. Proprietary – The idea behind EdgeX is to maximize choice so users do not have to lock themselves into proprietary technologies that, by design, limit choice. Given the implicit heterogeneity at the edge, ‘open’ at a minimum means the EdgeX platform must be silicon, hardware, operating system, software application and cloud agnostic.

Secure, Pluggable and Extensible Software Architecture – To offer choice and flexibility to our users the EdgeX team chose a modern, distributed, microservices based software architecture, which we believe supports the inherent complexities at the edge.

Edge Software Application ‘Plug and Play’ – EdgeX provides a standard open framework around which an ecosystem can emerge. It facilitates interoperable plug-and-play software applications and value add services providing users with real choice, rather than having to deal with siloed applications, which may potentially require huge system integration efforts to deliver and end to end IoT Edge solution.

Time-Critical Performance and Scalability – Edge applications need access to ‘real-time’ data e.g. millisecond or even microsecond response times, often with absolute real-time predictability requirements. Access to real time data is a fundamental differentiator between the edge and cloud computing worlds. EdgeX addresses round trip response time requirements in the milliseconds with target operating environments are server and gateway class computers running standard Windows or Linux operating systems.

The EdgeX project decided to leave it to the ecosystem to address Time-Critical edge systems, which require ultra-low footprint, microsecond performance and even hard real time predictability.  IOTech, like many other EdgeX Foundry contributors, has created a commercial solution for EdgeX Foundry – called Edge XRT. It is important real-time requirements are understood in full, as decisions taken can significantly impact success or failure of edge projects.

Connectivity and Interoperability- A major difference between the edge and cloud is inherent heterogeneity and complexity at the edge.  The edge is where the IT computer meets the OT ‘thing’ and there is a multitude of ‘connectivity’ protocols at or close to real time. EdgeX provides reference implementations of some key protocols along with SDKs to readily allow users to add new protocols. The commercial ecosystem also provides many additional connectors, making connectivity a configuration versus a programming task. Likewise, Northbound there are multiple cloud and other IT endpoints and EdgeX provides flexible connectivity to and from these different environments. EdgeX is cloud agnostic coming with many standard integrations.

LF Edge launches

Equally as important as the technical deliverables for an open source project is the ecosystem of companies which support it. The EdgeX ecosystem was greatly enhanced in January 2019 when EdgeX Foundry became one of five founding projects in LF Edge, an umbrella organization created by The Linux Foundation that “aims to establish an open, interoperable framework for edge computing independent of hardware, silicon, cloud, or operating system.” LF Edge’s objective is to bring together complementary open source edge technologies.

As one of the Stage 3 projects under LF Edge, EdgeX Foundry momentum increased with additional global collaboration. The increased amplification and support across LF Edge projects, community and members has helped turn EdgeX into a high velocity project.

Delivering  complementary products and solutions

EdgeX is a framework around which a global ecosystem of vendors can emerge to offer complementary edge products and services including commercial support, training and customer pilot programs, which add value to the baseline product.

Here are a few examples:

EdgeX in Retail

A great example of how companies deliver solutions around EdgeX is Intel’s Open Retail Initiative (ORI), a collaborative effort led by Intel and top technology companies. The goal of ORI is to accelerate the scalable deployment of data-rich solutions optimized for in-store retail, from the edge to the cloud. ORI leverages EdgeX, alongside vendor proprietary solutions, to deliver use cases based on ecosystem components (or “ingredients”) having a common, open framework EdgeX, which enables an ecosystem of interchangeable components and accessible data—a future-ready platform for innovation. Members of the ORI community include some of the industry’s leading device makers, independent software vendors, system integrators, and consultants.

Remote monitoring telemetry of energy supply networks

In another application, one of the world’s leading energy infrastructure operators collaborated with a Global SI on several Industrial IoT projects aimed at digitalizing its main assets and energy distribution processes.

The SI helped the customer to implement a real-time monitoring system for several gas compression and storage injection stations, using the EdgeX platform for data collection and aggregation, and the at-the-edge calculation of relevant performance metrics.

This application provides the customer with a real-time overview of station operational conditions, and an historical view of data trends to more deeply understand the critical information needed by future analytics to improve Operational & Management activities

The business value to the client included: maintenance activities improved by real-time remote monitoring; data from different machines analyzed on the edge and gathered in a central platform, remote monitoring enabling new users’ education and system knowledge.

Underlying software infrastructure for an AI Edge Platform

Accenture, the world’s largest Systems Integrator has based the Edge offering for its Applied Intelligence Platform+ (AIP+) on EdgeX. AIP+ is marketed globally, and includes a collection of modular, pre-integrated AI services and capabilities to accelerate and scale new outcomes. The AIP+ Edge Agent includes tools and software to support the deployment and management of machine-learning and analytics-based intelligence on devices.

Accenture was particularly attracted by the EdgeX open ecosystem: open-source and container-based pedigree, no lock-in (cloud/ chipset/ OS agnostic), and the potential of strategic partnerships to complement Accenture’s AIP+ focus.

IOTech’s Contribution to the Ecosystem

In each of the above situations the participating companies all benefited from the choice, flexibility, and the collaboration EdgeX enables at the IoT edge. All of the above examples also exploited IOTech’s contributions to the EdgeX ecosystem using our hardened, extended and fully supported licensed version of EdgeX, Edge Xpert.

As mentioned earlier IOTech is also delivering a time critical version of the platform named XRT, and an extensive range of industrial grade north and southbound connectors.

The scale, complexity, and variability of systems at the edge means the management of edge-based systems can be challenging. Today’s enterprise management and deployment systems work very well in enterprise / cloud environments but are not well suited to edge deployments.  Resource constraints, intermittent connectivity of the edge, and the large variety of OT protocols are just some of the issues that present additional challenges to managing and deploying edge solutions. Also, local security constraints may mean that access to and from the cloud is severely curtailed or not permitted, so cloud-based management will not be possible.

What’s Next

The project has 170 code contributors. EdgeX Foundry just completed its sixth release (Geneva), and in just twelve months since the first official ‘ready for primetime’ V1 release back in June 2019, has achieved millions of container downloads world-wide.

The EdgeX Foundry project goes is strong with huge momentum behind its V1 Release.  We are now moving forward with EdgeX 2.0, which will see increased focus on outreach, including greater attention given to EdgeX users as well as developers.  Indeed, this is where I will be concentrating my efforts going forward after stepping down as TSC Chair in June.

I am very proud of what the team has collectively achieved with EdgeX in 3 years from our first meeting in Boston. We have taken EdgeX from a Dell CTO led project to be the premier open edge software platform across the world.

From a personal standpoint, I would offer these key observations and takeaways as to why EdgeX has been successful:

  • Create a real problem to solve that can unify a community around solving it and provide real business value to those who contribute.
  • Collaboration is key with consistency of participation, maintaining key technical community leadership and contributors for at least a couple of years is very important. Projects like EdgeX take time, the problem is complex and there is no short cut to delivering quality.
  • Do not boil the ocean, as the diversity of your project increases look for alignment and complementary projects that can move your forward. EdgeX security is a prime example of this.
  • Understand your objectives and design the project accordingly, our objective in EdgeX was to grow a global standard. We took a decision in the early days to focus on quality, testing and API consistency to ensure what we delivered was of product quality, this has ensured we have a supportable and evolvable product that users can rely on.
  • Set the expectations of your target users. The team worked hard to make the 4th release (Edinburgh release) ‘deployment ready’ and, once we announced this, our downloads increased and we’re now heading to mass adoption on a global scale.

Most importantly, EdgeX Foundry has been a great team effort and a lot of fun! I am very much looking forward to the next phase of success.

Some Closing Thoughts

The full promise of IoT will be achieved when you combine the power of cloud and edge computing: delivering real value that allows businesses to analyze and act on their data with incredible agility and precision, giving them a critical advantage against their competitors.

The key challenges at the edge related to latency, network bandwidth, reliability, security, and OT heterogeneity cannot be addressed in cloud-only models – the edge needs its own answers.

EdgeX Foundry and the LF Edge ecosystem offer an answer, maximizing user choice and flexibility and enabling effective collaboration across multiple vertical markets at the edge helping to power the next wave of business transformation.

To learn more, please visit the EdgeX website and LF Edge website and get involved!

 

State of the Edge and Edge Computing World Present the Second Annual Edge Woman of the Year Award

By Announcement, State of the Edge

Edge Computing Industry Seeks to Recognize Women Shaping the Future of Edge and Invites Nominations for 2020

AUSTIN, Texas – July 1, 2020 – State of the Edge, an open source project under the LF Edge umbrella dedicated to publishing free research on edge computing, and Edge Computing World, an event that brings together the entire edge ecosystem, have announced they are accepting nominations for the Second Annual Edge Woman of the Year Award 2020. The award recognizes leaders who have been impacting their organization’s strategy, technology or communications around edge computing, edge software, edge infrastructure or edge systems. The organizers encourage industry participants to nominate their colleagues for qualified women to nominate themselves. The “Top Ten Women in Edge” finalists will be selected by the organizers and the final winner will be chosen by a panel of industry judges. Finalists will be announced at Edge Computing World, being held virtually October 12-15, 2020.

“By honoring the innovative women pushing the edge computing industry forward, we acknowledge the importance of their work and the continued need for diversity in a burgeoning and innovative field,” said Candice Digby, Partnerships and Events Manager at Vapor IO. “We are thrilled to host the second annual Edge Woman of the Year award program and look forward to honoring this year’s leader.”

State of the Edge and Edge Computing World are proud to sponsor the second annual Edge Woman of the Year Award, presented to outstanding female and non-binary professionals in edge computing for exceptional performance in their roles elevating Edge. This award highlights the growing importance of the contributions and accomplishments of women in this innovative industry. Nominations are now being accepted, and can be entered here.

Nominees will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Career contributions and involvements (ex. industry associations, open-source contributions, etc.)
  • Overall involvement in greater technology industry and demonstration of leadership qualities
  • Specific contributions to edge computing (team projects and collaborations admissible)
  • Contributions and involvement need not be technical; the award may be given to those in functions that include senior leadership, sales, marketing, etc.

Advisory Board of the 2020 Edge Woman of the Year Award include:

  • Nadine Alameh, CEO, Open Geospatial Consortium
  • Samantha Clarke, Director of Business Development, Seagate Technology
  • Michelle Davis, Manager, DoD/IC Specialist SA team, Red Hat
  • Eliane Fiolet, Co-Founder, Ubergizmo
  • Janet George, GVP Autonomous Enterprise, Oracle Cloud
  • Maribel Lopez, Founder and Principal Analyst, Lopez Research
  • Maemalynn Meanor, Senior PR and Marketing Manager, The Linux Foundation
  • Carolina Milanesi, Founder, The Heart of Tech
  • Molly Wojcik, Director of Education & Awareness, Section

“It was an honor to acknowledge an exceptionally strong group of nominees last year, and we look forward to again recognizing those iterating on the edge computing technology in exceptionally creative ways this year,” said Gavin Whitechurch of Topio Networks and Edge Computing World. “It is imperative we take note of and acknowledge our colleagues leading the edge computing revolution, and we look forward to doing that with this year’s Edge Woman of the Year award.”

For more information on the Women in Edge Award, please visit http://www.edgecomputingworld.com/edgewomanoftheyear.

About State of the Edge

State of the Edge is an open source project under the LF Edge umbrella that publishes free research on edge computing. It is a Stage 2 project (growth) under LF Edge and is divided into three working groups: Open Glossary of Edge Computing, the Edge Computing Landscape and the State of the Edge reports. All State of the Edge research is  offered free-of-charge under a Creative Commons license, including the landmark 2018 State of the Edge report, the 2019 Data at the Edge report and, most recently, the 2020 State of the Edge report.

About Edge Computing World

Edge Computing World is the only event that brings together users and developers with the entire edge ecosystem to accelerate the edge market & build the next generation of the internet. For 2020 the virtual event focuses on expanding the market, with new features including the Free-to-Attend Edge Developers Conference & the Free-to-End Users Edge Executive Conference.

New Training Course Aims to Make it Easy to Get Started with EdgeX Foundry

By Announcement, EdgeX Foundry, Training

Course explains what EdgeX Foundry is, how it works, how to use it in your edge solutions, leveraging the support of LF Edge’s large ecosystem 

SAN FRANCISCO, July 1, 2020 – The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announced the availability of a new training course, LFD213 – Getting Started with EdgeX Foundry.

LFD213, was developed in conjunction with LF Edge, an umbrella organization under The Linux Foundation that aims to establish an open, interoperable framework for edge computing independent of hardware, silicon, cloud, or operating system. The course is designed for IoT and/or edge software engineers, system administrators, and operation technology technicians that want to assemble an edge solution.

The course covers how EdgeX Foundry is architected, how to download and run it, and how to configure and extend the EdgeX framework when needed. The four chapters of the course, which take approximately 15 hours to complete, provide a basic overview, a discussion of device services, which connect physical sensors and devices to the rest of platform, application services, how to send data from EdgeX to enterprise applications, cloud systems, external databases, or even analytics packages, and more.

Hands-on labs enable students to get and run EdgeX and play with some of its important APIs, as well as create a simple service (either device or application service) and integrate it into the rest of EdgeX.

EdgeX Foundry is an open-source, vendor-neutral, hardware- and OS-agnostic IoT/edge computing software platform that is a Stage 3 (Impact) project under LF Edge. In the simplest terms, it is edge middleware that sits between operational technology, physical sensing “things” and information technology systems. It facilitates getting sensor data from any “thing” protocol to any enterprise application, cloud system or on-premise database. At the same time, the EdgeX platform offers local/edge analytics to be able to offer low latency decision making at the edge to actuate back down onto sensors and devices. Its microservice architecture and open APIs allow for 3rd parties to provide their own replacement or augmenting components and add additional value to the platform. In short, EdgeX Foundry provides the means to build edge solutions more quickly and leverage the support of a large ecosystem of companies that participate in edge computing.

“EdgeX Foundry is on a phenomenal growth trajectory with multiple releases and millions of container downloads,” said Jim White, EdgeX Foundry Chair of the Technical Steering Committee and CTO of IOTech Systems.  “Given the scale of the adopting community and ecosystem, it is critical that there is proper training available to allow new adopters and prospective users to learn how to get started. The new training, created by the architects of EdgeX Foundry and managed by The Linux Foundation, will allow developers exploring EdgeX a faster and better path to understand and work with EdgeX while also accelerating our project’s adoption at scale.”

The course is available to begin immediately. The $299 course fee provides unlimited access to the course for one year including all content and labs. Interested individuals may enroll here.

About the Linux Foundation

Founded in 2000, the Linux Foundation is supported by more than 1,000 members and is the world’s leading home for collaboration on open source software, open standards, open data, and open hardware. Linux Foundation’s projects are critical to the world’s infrastructure including Linux, Kubernetes, Node.js, and more. The Linux Foundation’s methodology focuses on leveraging best practices and addressing the needs of contributors, users and solution providers to create sustainable models for open collaboration. For more information, please visit us at linuxfoundation.org.

The Linux Foundation has registered trademarks and uses trademarks. For a list of trademarks of The Linux Foundation, please see its trademark usage page: www.linuxfoundation.org/trademark-usage. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds.

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