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.
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!