Open-source EdgeX Foundry seeks to standardize Internet of Things

Fifty companies have joined up to unify Internet of Things edge-computing programming.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Security is the Internet of Things' (IoT) Achilles heel. One reason that's so is there is a lack of common IoT development standards. The Linux Foundation, along with 50 companies, is addressing this by building a common open-framework for IoT edge computing and an ecosystem of interoperable components under a new open-source consortium: The EdgeX Foundry.

IoT EdgeX

EdgeX is seeking a common open-source framework for the IoT.

The new initiative has a common goal: The simplification and standardization of Industrial IoT edge computing, while still allowing room for vendors to add their own value-add features.

True, IoT is already booming as a business, but widespread fragmentation and the lack of a common IoT solution framework are hindering its broad adoption and stalling market growth. In addition, crooks are already breaking into IoT devices with cracking tools such as the Metasploit hacking kit.

This complexity and IoT's wide variety of components is creating paralysis. EdgeX will attempt to solve this by making it easy to quickly create IoT edge solutions that have the flexibility to adapt to changing business needs.

The EdgeX Foundry will try to unify the marketplace around a common open framework and building an ecosystem of companies offering interoperable plug-and-play components. These will be designed to run on any hardware or operating system and with any combination of application environments. With flexibility, EdgeX will also help deliver interoperability between connected devices, applications, and services across a wide range of use cases. A certification program will ensure interoperability between community-developed programs.

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That's easier said than done, but the initial work is already in place. Dell is seeding EdgeX Foundry with its early stage FUSE source code base under Apache 2.0. FUSE forms a layer that will sit between the many different messaging protocols used by today's sensor networks and the cloud and server layers.

The contribution comprises more than a dozen microservices and over 125,000 lines of code. It's designed to to facilitate interoperability between existing connectivity standards and commercial value-add such as edge analytics, security, system management, and services. Other EdgeX members are already adding code.

They're doing this because, Philip DesAutels, The Linux Foundation's Senior Director of IoT, explained, "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. 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."

This may sound to you a bit like AllJoyn. It's not. AllJoyn is a open-source protocol of device-to-device communications. EdgeX is a framework for building IoT edge software and firmware that connects via the internet to the cloud.

The EdgeX members are adopting an open-source edge software platform because it will help everyone in the IoT business world.

  • 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 enjoy interoperability with third-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.

EdgeX's membership includes numerous IoT movers and shakers. Founding members include: Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Bayshore Networks, Canonical, Dell, Linaro, NetFoundry, and VMware. Industry affiliate members include: Cloud Foundry Foundation, EnOcean Alliance, Mainflux, Object Management Group, Project Haystack and ULE Alliance.

I hope it's successful. The current mis-mash of incompatible, one-off technologies is a recipe for incompatibility and insecurity. An interoperable, open-source based IoT world will be far safer and better for both vendors and consumers.

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