EdgeX Foundry Unifies the IoT Marketplace to Accelerate Enterprise IoT Deployments

The Linux Foundation announced launch of EdgeX Foundry, an open source software project to build a common open framework for Internet of Things (IoT) edge computing and an ecosystem of interoperable components that will unify the marketplace and accelerate enterprise and Industrial IoT. The goal is the simplification and standardization of Industrial IoT edge computing, while still allowing the ecosystem to add significant value.

Looks like the big news is that Dell has joined and turned its Project Fuse set of IoT building blocks over to the open source project.

The press release, like most that deal with software, was long on buzz words and short on specifics that we all love to see. I have meetings this week in Hannover and expect to learn more. Watch for end-of-the-week updates.

Project Fuse? I did some research.

Back in December, 2015, Dell’s IoT director of strategy and partnerships Jason Shepherd told me that things were too complex trying to tie all the different ways to communicate through, for example, and IoT Gateway edge device. He also added these predictions for 2016. They seem to fit with the announcement.

  1. Enterprise will become the largest market for IoT adoption—While the Internet of Things hype reached its peak in the consumer markets this past year, 2016 will be the year of IoT in the enterprise market. Currently, we are seeing a slump in sales for the once buzzworthy, consumer IoT devices, such as fitness trackers, whereas just the opposite is happening for commercial IoT products. As companies begin understanding the value of IoT (return on investments, efficiency, productivity, etc.), commercial IoT solutions will gain traction and the enterprise will emerge as the largest market for IoT adoption.
  2. Standardization and interoperability of IoT technology will become a focal point—As IoT solutions become a mainstay for enterprises and consumers alike, the industry will face growing pressure for standardization and interoperability. As a result, an increasing number of industry players will begin uniting under the common goal of establishing a set of standards for IoT. These standards bodies and consortiums will make solid progress in 2016 but it is unlikely they will decide upon a finalized set of standards in the coming year. Rather, 2016 will be a year for critical industry-wide conversation that will help to drive the awareness of and need for standardization and interoperability.

Then I found this blog by Stacey Higginbotham, Dell plans an open source IoT stack, from last October.

I met with Jason Shepherd, director of IoT strategy and partnerships with Dell, who told me about its efforts to bring a modular set of building blocks to the industrial internet. It’s called Project Fuse, and Dell plans to make the effort open source.

Dell is working with 30 other “big name” companies that Shepherd didn’t name to create a layer of technologies that will sit between the many different messaging protocols used by today’s sensor networks and the cloud and analytics layer (see photo).

To me, this looks like it could cause problems for some of the middleware software vendors that currently do a lot of the heavy lifting for clients trying to integrate various systems, but Shepherd says some of them are on board because a platform like Project Fuse means they don’t have to build each client’s integration from scratch.

 

Leaders of this initiative believe there is too much fragmentation and the lack of a common IoT solution framework. This complexity hinders broad adoption and stalling market growth.

“Success in 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.”

Unifying the IoT Market

EdgeX Foundry is designed to unify the marketplace around a common open framework and build 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 quickly and easily deliver interoperability between connected devices, applications, and services, across a wide range of use cases,” states the release. Interoperability between community-developed software will be maintained through a certification program.

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. 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, among others. 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 (AMD), Alleantia, Analog Devices, Bayshore Networks, Beechwoods Software, Canonical, ClearBlade, CloudPlugs, Cloud of Things, Cumulocity, Davra Networks, Dell, 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, RFMicron, Sight Machine, SoloInsight, Striim, Switch Automation, Two Bulls, V5 Systems, Vantiq and ZingBox. Industry affiliate members include: Cloud Foundry Foundation, EnOcean Alliance, Mainflux, Object Management Group, Project Haystack and ULE Alliance. 

“Businesses currently have to invest a lot of time and energy into developing their own edge computing solutions, before they can even deploy IoT solutions to address business challenges,” said Philip DesAutels, PhD Senior Director of IoT at The Linux Foundation and Executive Director of EdgeX Foundry. “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 customers can deploy IoT edge solutions quickly and easily with the flexibility to dynamically adapt 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 3rd party applications and hardware without reinventing connectivity;
  • Sensor/Device Makers can write an application-level device driver with a selected protocol once using the SDK and get pull from all solution providers;
  • 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 merge and guide the technical direction of the project.

“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 and Partnerships, Dell. “We’re big believers in openness and choice, and this modular architecture is designed to help anyone easily build edge computing solutions with preferred hardware, software, standards and services while minimizing reinvention. EdgeX Foundry is not a new standard, rather a software platform to unify standards and edge applications.” 

EdgeX Foundry is an open source project hosted by The Linux Foundation building a common open framework for IoT edge computing and an ecosystem of interoperable components that unifies the marketplace and accelerates the deployment of IoT solutions. Designed to run on any hardware or operating system and with any combination of application environments, the EdgeX enables developers to quickly create flexible IoT edge solutions that can easily adapt to changing business needs. To learn more, visit: www.edgexfoundry.org.

 

 

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