EdgeX Foundry Member Spotlight: Mainflux

By May 17, 2018 September 4th, 2018 Blog
Mainflux

The EdgeX Foundry community is comprised of a diverse set of member companies that represent the IoT ecosystem. The Member Spotlight blog series highlights these members and how they are contributing to and leveraging open source solutions. Today, we sat down with Drasko Draskovic, co-founder of Mainflux and the main architect of the Mainflux IoT Platform, to discuss the importance of a growing ecosystem, their IoT framework, the impact EdgeX has made and what the future holds for the company.

What does Mainflux do?

Mainflux developed a full-stack open-source, patent-free IoT Platform, which serves as a middleware and software infrastructure for the development of IoT Solutions and Intelligent products.

Written in Go, deployed in Docker and orchestrated in Kubernetes as a set of microservices, the Mainflux IoT platform is capable of massive deployments (millions of connected devices) and can provide connectivity to any device and any application. The Mainflux IoT platform can be deployed anywhere and respects modern standards such as JSON Web Signature (Json Web Token) (JWT) and TLS, as well as fine-grained, policy-based authorization.

In addition, Mainflux also offers consulting services provided by a cross-functional team that covers all technological layers needed for IoT projects.

Why is your company investing in the IoT Ecosystem?

Over time, IoT has changed the paradigm of single-vendor, end-to-end methodology. Even big companies are realizing that IoT is too complex to approach alone and that fulfilling its promise requires collaboration.

As such, it is important for small IoT companies or start-up businesses to be part of an ecosystem that can deliver technology that meets the customer’s specific business needs and provide acceptable ROI. Our CMO Sasa Klopanovic describes EdgeX as a “David Befriends Goliath” relationship – since IoT giants like Dell, AMD, Analog Devices and Samsung work with startups and smaller companies. The collaboration across the ecosystem brings together the range of expertise and abilities, fostering innovation and rapid growth by allowing multiple providers to work with a common framework.

How is Mainflux involved in EdgeX Foundry?

Mainflux is very active in the EdgeX technical community. Mainflux Co-Founder Janko Isidorovic is the Chair of the EdgeX Applications Working Group and other team members contribute code for EdgeX export services.

Additionally, I am active in the project through continuous following and analyzing issues and reviewing and commenting new contributions. As a project maintainer, I am responsible for approving and merging pull requests and leading technical discussions on improving the code and architecture. I am especially proud regarding monorepo proposal and implementation, file structure and architectural and containerization improvement because it led to dramatic reduction in memory footprint and start-up time.

As a result of my contributions, I was fortunate to be nominated by the technical community and selected as a winner for EdgeX Foundry’s first annual Community Awards. I was honored with both the Innovation Leadership Award, for my technical contributions, and the Contribution Award for my leadership that has made a significant impact on growing EdgeX as an open source project and interoperability platform. I am humbled and very proud of the honor and look forward to reaching more technical milestones with the EdgeX community.

How is Mainflux using the framework?

The EdgeX framework is an essential software block running on our MFX-1 gateway, ensuring connectivity, data processing and computing on the IoT edge. Through it’s Export Services, it connects to the Mainflux IoT platform in the cloud and forms a vertical turn-key solution for IoT.

The MFX-1 gateway is based on Quad 1GHz NXP i.MX6 ARM Cortex-A9 architecture with 2GB RAM and 8GB eMMC assured by our hardware partner Solid Run. One of our focuses is to assure good performance of EdgeX Go components on this type of architecture.

Being an industrial IoT gateway, MFX-1 has a strong requirement for security: the U-Boot bootloader is based on secure boot with ARM Trust Zone and PKI signatures. The Linux kernel is specially tailored through the Yocto framework, HW anti-tampering mechanism are employed and various other types protections are used. On the EdgeX side we have worked on EdgeX Auth service that implements JWT signatures and checking, and various reverse-proxy TLS/DTLS setup needed for constrained devices and applications.

Other things we are working on include EdgeX UI applications for local configuration that will run on a gateway itself and a remote Mainflux app that will manage whole fleet of EdgeX gateways, including handling software updates, status and service information handling, IoT messaging and analytics in the cloud.

How has EdgeX Foundry impacted your company?

During the R&D and implementation process, Mainflux team members gained a lot of skills for the EdgeX architecture and deployment procedures, and became comfortable in using and expanding these technologies. This helped Mainflux build a top-notch team of EdgeX experts who are capable of working on various kinds of consultancy assignments. We know how EdgeX project was built, we were there when it launched, and because of that we believe that EdgeX Foundry will be used extensively within the industry. This will yield a lot of requirements for integration, support and consultancy and we now have a team with EdgeX expertise capable to answer to these requests. In fact, the EdgeX platform will enable new disruptive solutions and applications to be implemented on top and the Mainflux team already has some ideas in the pipeline related to blockchain and decentralized computation on the edge.

If that isn’t enough, we also included EdgeX Foundry in a recent book and won a grant to develop IoT gateways based on EdgeX.

The Book: Scalable Architecture for the Internet of Things.

Our initial proposal for the “Scalable Architecture for the Internet of Things” book published by O’Reilly did not include an EdgeX Foundry chapter. We focused most of it on cloud IoT platforms. However, we soon realized that EdgeX is an extremely important example of the IoT architecture scalability, as it covers the whole edge-fog-cloud continuum and is based on a set of containerized microservices that communicate via standard interfaces or a message busses. It seemed natural to add it in. To receive a copy of the book, click here.

Mainflux recently won a Serbian Innovation Grant.

The Government of Serbia Innovation Fund awarded Mainflux a funding grant to develop MFX-1, an IoT edge gateway powered by the EdgeX Foundry platform. An addition of the edge component to the Mainflux IoT Platform will turn it into a unique open source IoT solution capable of both server-side and edge computing.

More than 130 projects applied for the Innovation Fund and 24 projects were selected. Projects were evaluated by an independent governance structure, with a robust international peer review system and an international Expert Committee.

The combination of Mainflux’s IoT platform and its IoT Gateway based on EdgeX will provide a Mainflux IIoT System, which we’re hoping will lead to an fully-featured open source system for IoT solutions development.

Janko Isidorovic, CEO and Co-founder of Mainflux,receiving the Serbian Innovation Grant at the ceremony.