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Linux Foundation EdgeX Foundry to Enable Edge Computing for IoT

| by Sergio De Simone Follow 6 Followers on May 04, 2017. Estimated reading time: 3 minutes |

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The Linux Foundation has launched the EdgeX Foundry, a new project aimed at building an open framework for IoT computing and an ecosystem of interoperable components.

The EdgeX Foundry aims to foster the model of edge computing, where enabled devices will not send their data back to the cloud for processing, but rely on local gateway devices for computing and analytics. The main advantages of this approach are reduced latency and network traffic, and improved security. This is considered of special value for industrial applications, such as power generation, smart traffic lights, etc where a cloud component is not strictly required; or, for more general applications where data from a number of devices is collected locally before sending it to the cloud.

According to the announcement, Dell will seed the project by contributing the source code of its Fuse framework, which consists of more than a dozen microservices and over 125,000 lines of code, under the Apache 2.0 license. The project will also receive code contributions from others members, which consist of 50 companies at the moment, including AMD, Ubuntu, Canonical, VMWare, and others, but it is not clear yet what they will be about.

InfoQ has spoken with Philip DesAutels, senior director of IoT at The Linux Foundation.

When will the source code be available to developers? Which parts of the framework will be available first, and what will come next?

Philip DesAutels: The code will be released as EdgeX, on or before May 31. This is because with 125K lines of code, we have a large-scale conversion and we are tackling to do the namespace renaming exercise from FUSE to EdgeX. If a company wants access before that, there is a simple process they can follow, and dozens have already done so. In short, the code is in transition and things will change a bit as it releases.

Could you give a high-level overview of the features the framework will provide to developers?

DesAutels: The best way to discuss this is through our architecture slide:

We are providing a unifying framework through four core APIs that EdgeX provides - security, management, devices and services. The ecosystem of companies that participate in and support EdgeX will provide the actual services that come together to create EdgeX Platforms (implementations). With that said, EdgeX will ship with sample device services, supporting services, management tools, etc, that can serve as reference implementations. We also expect the EdgeX Foundry community to enhance some of these over time to the level of production-ready as part of the EdgeX Foundry open source effort.

Will EdgeX provide a single, cohesive API, or will it be more a collection of more or less loosely coupled components?

DesAutels: EdgeX provides a core Bus that unifies four APIs into a Framework that enables loosely-coupled components to interact together in a cohesive and unified way.

How does the typical architecture of an EdgeX-powered solution look like?

DesAutels: In the simplest implementation, a single gateway device has the EdgeX core running on it along with an assemblage of device, supporting and export services as well as a management service and security service. This becomes a processing node at the edge, where the interacting with multiple devices, sensors, machines, etc come together for interactive processing before being connected with the cloud.

For what kind of domains do you especially envision EdgeX-based solutions? What typical requirements would EdgeX fit?

DesAutels: The community is shooting for a a small base install footprint giving great flexibility in applicability to the EdgeX framework. The flexible design and large and growing ecosystem means that we should expect to see a wide domain of applicability from industrial to civil infrastructure to enterprise and even consumer.

The Linux Foundation initiative is not the first attempt to provide a standard platform for building interconnected IoT devices. Previous examples include among others Cisco, with its iOx platform; the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) with an Android-based reference platform called Kaval; and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute MEC specification. It remains to be seen whether the EdgeX Foundry will have more success.

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