2 Great Weeks in the Life of EdgeX Foundry

By November 6, 2018Blog

By Keith Steele, Chair of the EdgeX Foundry TSC

I wrote this blog on a train from Edinburgh back to my home town in Newcastle UK, ending two weeks of spirited activity for the EdgeX community. On October 15-17, we gathered in Barcelona for IOT World Solutions Congress and then we met in Edinburgh for our bi-annual Technical Steering Committee (TSC) meeting.

Both weeks were by hugely successful for the project with some major milestones achieved, market momentum demonstrated and collaboration that solidified plans for our impressive roadmap, which agreed for the next EdgeX release in April.

Most striking of all, however is the growing ecosystem of contributors driving the project forward, their talent, enthusiasm and unselfish collaboration. It was just a pleasure to witness and a lot of fun – I’ll never quite forget the gradual rise in volume in the room as we progressed through the Scotch Whiskey tasting with the TSC!

Anyway, I digress, let’s start this blog in Barcelona, or for some of us Toulouse! The IOTech team had a slight travel diversion due to storms and ended up in nice Southwestern French city, but didn’t get to explore. Undeterred, the team developed an alternate travel route and finally showed up in Barcelona to see the EdgeX Foundry booth ready and looking sharp with the new community demo as a nice focal point.

The New Community Demo

EdgeX Foundry’s new community demo set out to demonstrate the full capability of EdgeX in the context of a realistic use case, we chose Buildings Automation but it could have been any edge vertical. When we say the full capability of EdgeX we mean:

  • Multi vendor, multi protocol southbound connectivity and data interoperability – the demo has over a dozen different connected devices seamlessly interoperating through EdgeX using standard connectivity software!
  • Hardware independence – the demo has three gateways from three different vendors hosting EdgeX, demonstrating its distributed microservice capability
  • Silicon provider independence – three Gateways, three different chip sets; 32 and 64 bit ARM and 64 bit Intel
  • Application plug and play – standard Microservice API’s enabled easy replacement of the EdgeX rules engine reference implementation with NodeRED to demo Edge analytics capability
  • Local Edge Control – the demo is not just about collecting data, it shows full the full command capability of EdgeX
  • Connect to any Cloud – the demo shows connectivity to AWS but this could just as easily have been Azure, Google, or any cloud
  • Interaction with Cloud Applications – in this case, we showcased higher level Energy Management and Space optimization software interacting with the Edge system but with flow of data filtered and optimized to cut expensive cloud data usage costs!

If you weren’t at the show, you’ll be able to see a video of it soon. In the meantime, James Butcher, Senior Solutions Architect at IOTech, shares the details of how the demo came together in this blog post.

So, how was it all received?

I say without hesitation this was a great show for EdgeX (and I say this as someone who usually regards trade shows as only marginally more useful than a Celine Dion tribute act).

The EdgeX Foundry stand was continuously busy – attendees came to see the community demo and meet with EdgeX members Basking Automation, CloudPlugs, Dell, Enigmedia, IOTech, and Mainflux as well as Redis Labs, RSA, VMware and ZEDEDA with their own presence demonstrating their integration with EdgeX.

At the show, we announced Intel and eight other tech influencers joined the project and there was huge interest for this and the new EdgeX dev kits at the show. Jason Shepherd, Chair of the EdgeX Foundry Governing Board, and I were busy briefing customers, analysts and media, while traffic to the booth was heavy and constant. James, one of the people manning the community demonstrator only managed lunch at 4pm the 1st day of the show!

My own takeaways

Barcelona, for me, proved without a shadow of doubt an open approach at the Edge is now a well-established need and EdgeX is regarded as the leading open implementation.

The vendor neutral approach is the clear driver, the Edge is by its nature a very heterogeneous and users want a solution that is designed to support that heterogeneity rather than a proprietary solution that locks them in to a specific vendor.

The flexibility of choice of cloud and hardware providers were big winners with visitors to the EdgeX booth. Some of the bigger users are hedging their bets with dual approaches, but there was evidence from the many vendors visiting the booth that they recognized they were going to have to support EdgeX.

Another big motivator was an open approach as a basis for bringing together the 6-10 vendors/technology partners typically required to deliver an end to end IOT solution using EdgeX as an integration point allowing vendors to keep their proprietary value add while collaborating across a standard and open infrastructure. Interesting times!

On to Edinburgh for the EdgeX Technical Steering Committee meeting.

Good to see the numbers growing with 40-50 people attending across the 3 days of the meeting, again from all corners of the globe. Nice to also to see many new faces from Intel, Siemens, Thales, Analog Devices, Canonical, Dell, ForgeRock, Intel, IOTech, Mainflux, Redis Labs, Samsung Electronics, Siemens AG, Technische Universität Berlin, University of Edinburgh, VMware, and Wanxiang Group.

The main meeting discussion topics were the roadmap for the next release, called ‘Edinburgh’ (scheduled for release in April 2019) and the status of the Delhi release, which we just announced the code freeze with release in mid-November.

The Delhi release is a very important milestone for EdgeX as the core services have now all been refactored in Go and C providing a big improvement in performance, footprint and scalability.

A dot release to Delhi is going to be released in December to provide Redis as the underlying database option (in place of MongoDB) for several services including Core Data, Core Metadata and Export Client.  This work will be even more of a focus for Edinburgh where the easy replacement and swap of databases that support EdgeX is desired.

In parallel to the formal Delhi release of EdgeX, several community developer kits will also be made available, the first based on the Samsung Pi and Artik developer boards (link). The dev kits will go a long way to onboarding future EdgeX developers and improving developer onboarding will be a key priority for the TSC this year.

Here’s a short list of what was scoped for the Edinburgh release:

  • Support for binary data to be processed by EdgeX for the first time to allow for carrying video images, audio data, and the like.
  • Implementation (initial) of Application Services, an eventual replacement for Export Services, will be more scalable and functionally driven microservices for getting data from EdgeX to other systems and applications.
  • Definition for how EdgeX will operate on top of hardware root of trust systems and take advantage of the secure storage with an abstraction layer
  • Performance targets for EdgeX are already being hit, but performance testing as part of the continuous integration and release process.
  • Building better abstraction and separation of concerns around persistence for the services using a database (MongoDB today) in order to allow easy replacement of the database in the future.
  • Implementing the next wave of system management features to include providing more service metrics and offering EdgeX metrics, configuration and status information via additional control plane protocols (such as LWM2M, SNMP, etc.).
  • Adding a plethora of Device Services (DS) for various protocols given the new DS SDKs in Go and C.

Look for a future post by Jim White, our EdgeX Foundry Vice Chair of the TSC, to provide more details on the upcoming April 2019 release.

A few other points of notes from the meeting

We agreed it was time to have a release manager to oversee the bi-annual EdgeX releases and this task would be undertaken by the major contributors. Ideally, we’d rotate ownership of this task and it would be a good way forward with potentially 4-member companies taking it in turns by rotation. A call will be set up shortly to discuss this process and move forward with it.

The DevOps and QA/Test Working Groups will, for the next few months, run combined calls given the close cooperation needed and the focus in the EdgeX Edinburgh release on incorporating automated performance and scalability tests as part of the overnight runs. Look out for the new time for these meetings shortly.

Now the C and the GO SDK’s are available a big part of the Device and DeviceSDK Working Group’s work will now switch to acceleration and collaboration around accelerating new Device Service connectivity. This is obviously seen as key to widespread deployment of EdgeX going forward.

As mentioned, we had to have a little bit of fun while in Edinburgh. There’s nothing quite like Scotch Whiskey tasting in Edinburgh.

 

 

Remember, if you can’t make the meetings you can join by phone and the recordings of the meeting can be found here.

The next F2F TSC meeting will be hosted in Seoul, South Korea on April 22 -25.2019. You can register here and find more information is available on the EdgeX Wiki.

It was also announced the October 2019 meeting will take place at Intel’s facility in Chandler Arizona. We look forward to collaborating with you there!!

Finally, a couple of thank you notes, the first one to Jeremy Phelps, who is stepping down as chair from the DevOps Working Group, Jeremy’s enthusiasm, skill and effort levels have been just stellar and he will be a hard act to follow!

Lastly, thanks to the team at the Linux Foundation for their massive efforts in bringing both Barcelona and Edinburgh to fruition with professionalism and untold patience having to deal with me. Maybe next time, we all get an Octopus T-shirt!

Best Regards,

Keith Steele, TSC Chair

If you have questions or comments, visit the EdgeX Rocket.Chat and share your thoughts in the #community channel.