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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Announces Azure IoT Edge Modules for Linux on Windows in Public Preview

Microsoft Announces Azure IoT Edge Modules for Linux on Windows in Public Preview

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Recently Microsoft announced the public preview of Azure IoT Edge for Linux on Windows, also known as EFLOW. With EFLOW, customers run production Linux-based cloud-native workloads on Windows IoT.

With IoT Edge, compute and storage are closer to IoT devices out in the field. The Azure IoT Edge open-source solution, offered as part of the Azure IoT Hub service, is Microsoft's offering to deploy Docker containers - also labeled as "modules" running Azure services or third-party services. Microsoft now offers EFLOW in public preview providing the ability to run Linux containers with the Azure IoT Edge service. Users can now deploy Linux in Azure IoT Edge as a virtual machine or module, which is possible because Microsoft uses its own Linux variant in Azure IoT Edge.

Terry Warwick, senior program manager at Window IoT Team, explains in a Microsoft IoT show video:

We have had a Linux kernel for quite some time at Microsoft and recently released a first-party distribution of Linux called CBL mariner Linux. We have built a Linux Virtual Machine on top of Windows's curated to run Azure IoT Edge. The Azure IoT Edge is sitting on top of this curated Linux space to run any custom modules you get from the Marketplace or your own custom solution you build from scratch.


According to the blog post about the public preview EFLOW, the solution also includes:

  • A Windows Admin Center (WAC) extension facilitating installation, configuration, and diagnostics from a remote workstation or on the local device
  • Interoperability through bi-directional communication between Windows processes and Linux containers provides the best of both worlds where the Windows process can provide UI or hardware proxy for business logic and ML inferencing provided by the Linux containers
  • Integration with Microsoft Update to keep the software up-to-date, including the Windows runtime components, the Mariner VM, and Azure IoT Edge

Warwick also said in the video why Microsoft brought the EFLOW solution to its customers:

Our customers have to choose between running either Windows or Linux, or it requires a second device in the enterprise to host the Linux environments. These IT administrators may not have the skills to operate both platforms, or the enterprise may have a large investment in the management of one vs. the other. So we're focusing mostly on those enterprises and those solutions that have a vast investment in Windows architecture, Windows devices, Windows management, and Windows knowledge to really bring the best of both worlds together in a hybrid environment in a way that does not require the enterprise to set up a new control plane to manage a Linux environment.

EFLOW is currently available on all Hyper-V capable Windows 10 installations making millions of existing devices EFLOW capable, connected, and manageable through Azure. Furthermore, detailed information on Azure IoT Edge is available on the documentation landing page.

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