EdgeX Foundry and the Quest for Multivendor Interoperability

  • August 22, 2017
  • Feature
EdgeX Foundry and the Quest for Multivendor Interoperability
EdgeX Foundry and the Quest for Multivendor Interoperability

By Bill Lydon, Editor, Automation.com

In the lawless frontier of the Industrial Internet of Things, there has been an ever-increasing push for new standards and order that companies can rally around. In the most recent effort towards this goal, The Linux Foundation announced the launch of EdgeX Foundry, a vendor-neutral, open source project hosted by the Linux Foundation at the Hannover Fair April 24, 2017.  This is an open source project to build a common open framework for Internet of Things (IoT) edge computing and an ecosystem of interoperable components that unifies the marketplace and accelerates enterprise and Industrial IoT.  The project is aligned around a common goal: the simplification and standardization of Industrial IoT edge computing, while still allowing the ecosystem to add significant value.  The initial project is focusing on near real-time performance beta release in the fall of 2017 and explore real-time in 2018.

Founding members include: Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Alleantia, Analog Devices, Bayshore Networks, Beechwoods Software, Canonical, ClearBlade, CloudPlugs, Cloud of Things, Cumulocity, Davra Networks, Dell, Device Authority, Eigen Innovations, EpiSensor, FogHorn Systems, ForgeRock, Great Bay Software, IMS Evolve, IOTech, IoTium, KMC Controls, Kodaro, Linaro, MachineShop, Mobiliya, Mocana, Modius, NetFoundry, Neustar, Opto 22, relayr, RevTwo, RFMicron, Sight Machine, SoloInsight, Striim, Switch Automation, Two Bulls, V5 Systems, Vantiq, VMware and ZingBox. Industry affiliate members include: Cloud Foundry Foundation, EnOcean Alliance, Mainflux, Object Management Group, Project Haystack and ULE Alliance.


DellTechnologies Leading the Charge

In a leadership move, DellTechnologies seeded this project with its Project Fuse source code base under Apache 2.0 License. This contribution includes more than a dozen microservices and over 125,000 lines of code. Dell claims that it architected Fuse based on the feedback from hundreds of technology providers and end users, to enable interoperability between existing connectivity standards and commercial value-adds such as edge analytics, security, system management and services.  “We think EdgeX Foundry is the key to accelerating the fragmented IoT market and are proud to have been a part of the effort from the beginning,” said Jason Shepherd, IoT Strategy and Partnerships, Dell. “We’re big believers in openness and choice, and this modular architecture is designed to help anyone easily build edge computing solutions with preferred hardware, software, standards and services while minimizing reinvention. EdgeX Foundry is not a new standard, but a way to unify standards and edge applications.”


About EdgeX Foundry

The Ecosystem

EdgeX Foundry is a foundational open source edge software platform that promotes the growth of an IoT ecosystem for edge device integration by users, hardware manufacturers, industrial automation suppliers, building automation suppliers, machine builders, independent software vendors, sensors/device makers, and system integrators.

The Certification

EdgeX Foundry will certify the components which is fundamental for any broadly accepted standard to ensure the highest level of compatibility.

The Operating Systems

The project is supporting x86 and ARM processors running any operating system including Linux, Windows and macOS. Applications can be written for any application environment such as Java, Javascript, Python, Go and C/C++.    EdgeX Foundry employs a tiered IoT architecture that allows developers to use a variety of plug–and–play microservices on the compute nodes.  

EdgeX Foundry is the hub of a unifying ecosystem for IoT Edge Solutions

Live demonstrations of the EdgeX platform were on display at Hannover Fair 2017, at multiple exhibit areas, including: Dell Technologies kiosk in the Industrial Internet Consortium Pavilion, Forgerock Edge Security, Opto 22, Linaro, SAP, IOTech, and National Instruments.

The Architecture

EdgeX Foundry leverages cloud-native principles, including microservices and platform-independence, but is architected to meet specific needs of the IoT edge. This includes accommodating both IP- and non-IP based connectivity protocols, security and system management for widely distributed compute nodes, and scaling down to highly-constrained devices. 


What are Microservices?

Microservices are a new architecture style of building systems using simple, lightweight, loosely coupled services that can be developed and released independently of each other. I discussed the term “loosely coupled” with a Dell developer who described it as a way of building code that does not have a tight dependency on other code by developing an application as a suite of small services, each running in its own process and communicating with lightweight mechanisms.  They may be written in different programming languages and use different data storage technologies.

Based on initial code contributions from Founding Members, there is a fully-functional Alpha platform in the project today that will continue to mature in the community.  As an open source, community-driven project, the current architecture scheme will evolve over time.

Bill's Thoughts & Observations

EdgeX Foundry illustrates the desire for open architecture multivendor interoperability in the open source technology community. This is in sharp contrast to industrial automation vendors, who have maintained highly-gated closed ecosystems at the high level of their architectures, and closed architecture at the edge devices such as PLCs and process controllers.  Nothing yet seen, in the traditional industrial automation community, parallels the intellectual property contribution to the EdgeX Foundry open Linux community by DellTechnologies. For the past couple of years, regular readers will know that I have been predicting that if the traditional industrial automation vendors do not get involved in collaborations to create open architectures, it is likely that the IT and IoT industries will eventually displace them.  The EdgeX Foundry project looks like a component of this transformation.


Related Articles



EdgeX Foundry Wiki

Learn More

Did you enjoy this great article?

Check out our free e-newsletters to read more great articles..