Amazon launches AWS Greengrass for IoT

Amazon Web Services has launched AWS Greengrass to combat the challenges faced by devices at the edge in the new Internet of Things world.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor
Image: AWS

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has unveiled Greengrass, allowing local compute, messaging, and data caching for the Internet of Things (IoT).

Launching the service at AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas on Wednesday, AWS CEO Andy Jassy said Greengrass will allow users to run IoT applications across the AWS cloud and local devices using AWS Lambda and AWS IoT.

"Device manufacturers and chipmakers will be able to build Greengrass into devices from the get go," Jassy explained.

Using AWS Lambda, Jassy said Greengrass ensures that IoT devices can respond quickly to local events, operate with intermittent connections, and minimise the cost of transmitting IoT data to the cloud.

Greengrass is already available in limited preview, with the cloud giant explaining it will allow developers to build IoT solutions that connect different types of devices with the cloud and also each other.

According to AWS, devices that run Linux and support ARM or x86 architectures can host the Greengrass Core, which enables the local execution of AWS Lambda code, messaging, data caching, and security.

Devices running AWS Greengrass Core then act as a hub that can communicate with other devices that have the AWS IoT Device SDK installed, such as microcontroller based devices or large appliances.

Jassy said AWS Greengrass extends AWS to devices so they can act locally on the data they generate, while still using the cloud for management, analytics, and durable storage.

AWS Greengrass Core devices and the AWS IoT Device SDK-enabled devices can be configured to communicate with one another in a Greengrass Group. If the Greengrass Core device loses connection to the cloud, devices in the Greengrass Group can continue to communicate with each other over the local network. For example, AWS said a Greengrass Group may represent one floor of a building, one truck, or one home.

By the end of 2016, analyst firm Gartner is expecting around 6.4 billion "things" -- devices from toasters and kettles to cars and hospital equipment -- to be connected to the internet.

That figure represents a 30 percent rise from 2015, and Gartner expects this figure will grow further to reach 20.8 billion by 2020.

By this year, as many as 5.5 million new things will become connected every day. As a result, the growing IoT will support total services spending of $235 billion in 2016, up 22 percent from 2015, the analyst predicted.

Also on Wednesday, Jassy announced AWS was giving its customers access to the artificial intelligence that's been powering Amazon products and capabilities for years, unveiling a suite of products as well.

AWS' first new AI product is Amazon Rekognition is an image recognition and analysis service with facial recognition of objects and scenes. AWS also launched Amazon Polly, which is a text-to-speech service powered by deep learning.

Third, Jassy introduced Amazon Lex, which provides natural language understanding and automatic speech recognition, powered by deep learning.

It's effectively "what's inside Alexa," Jassy said. "This will allow you to build all kinds of conversational applications."

Disclosure: Asha Barbaschow travelled to AWS Re:Invent as a guest of AWS.

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