Close to the Edge

Tuesday, December 10, 2019 - 07:00 by Mike Milinkovich

Today we are launching our new Edge Native Working Group to help drive the industry platform for edge computing. The new group has hit the ground running with everything needed to accelerate adoption of enterprise applications at the edge: a mature code base that’s already widely deployed in production environments, strong endorsements and participation from industry heavyweights, strong collaborations with other industry organizations such as the CNCF, and a deep understanding of the key challenges ahead.

But before turning to the details of the announcement, let’s talk a little about how edge computing differs from related technologies such as cloud and IoT.

To me, edge computing differs from IoT in that IoT is historically a bottom up approach. The people who talk about IoT are likely coming from an embedded systems or industrial automation background, and are looking for new, open stacks to connect their OT systems to modern cloud infrastructure.

Edge computing is more of a top down approach where people are looking for how they can take the new generation of cloud infrastructure and use it to solve problems at the edge of the network. Edge computing does not necessarily differ from cloud computing in terms of compute power (multiprocessor 64-bit x86 or ARM with gigabytes of RAM) or software stack (containers, Kubernetes, and microservices). The single most important differentiator between cloud compute and edge compute is simply “do you know (or care) where the resources are located”? If the answer to that is yes, then you are in the realm of edge computing. In addition, the requirement to deal with the transparent orchestration of microservices from cloud to edge is key.

Edge Accelerates Applications

Artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous vehicle applications are two great examples of why there is massive interest in edge computing. Pushing applications out to the edge of the network is the only way to efficiently transfer and analyze the massive amounts of data AI applications rely on. And, it’s the only way to achieve the sub-one-millisecond latency autonomous vehicle applications require.

With the Edge Native Working Group, the global community can collaborate to evolve the commercial-grade, production-ready code base we already have in Eclipse ​ioFog​, Eclipse ​fog05​, and other projects to address technical issues that are specific to the edge:

  • Running applications on a wider variety of hardware than you would find in a data center
  • Dealing with the fact that at the edge, the physical location of your resources matters
  • Maintaining communications when you’re forced to rely on low-bandwidth, intermittent network connections while also scaling to scenarios that rely on 5G and other high bandwidth technologies
  • Ensuring the security of edge devices that are often installed in easily accessible locations (read the Edge Security Challenges whitepaper published by the Kubernetes IoT Edge working group)

Resolving these challenges will allow the Edge Native Working Group to bring EdgeOps — DevOps for the edge — to the world so developers can write software and can deploy, run, and manage it where it needs to, whether that’s on an MRI machine in a hospital, a motion-activated camera in a farmer’s field, or a fleet of vehicles.

The Market for Edge Computing Is Here and It’s Huge

Interest in resolving edge-specific issues is extremely high. Our founding member list is an impressive group of industry leaders, such as ADLINK, Bosch, Edgeworx, Eurotech, Kynetics, Huawei, Intel, and Siemens. We’re also actively engaged in discussions with other influential global players and expect to share news about additional working group members in the near future.

The stature and breadth of companies joining the Edge Native Working Group confirms the need for an open source industry group with edge code that’s ready to be used in serious deployments. According to a 2019 Allied Market Research report, edge computing is forecast to generate a market worth $16.5 billion within the next five years.

The business potential at the edge is as varied as the companies joining the working group. For a chip developer, the Edge Native Working Group offers access to an industry ecosystem that can showcase the speed of their products in AI and data analytics applications at the edge. A global telecom player can ensure its products are aligned with edge computing standards to enable 5G applications at the edge.

And on it goes, with the potential for companies in any industry to leverage the open platforms the Edge Native Working Group is developing to build customized edge applications for their specific markets and opportunities.

Get Closer to the Edge at the Eclipse Foundation

Critical new initiatives, such as the creation of the Edge Native Working Group, can only happen when Eclipse Foundation community members come together to drive them forward. I want to sincerely thank everyone involved in getting the Edge Native Working Group off the ground for their dedication and meaningful contributions. The tremendous interest and success we’ve experienced so far is a true testament to the value of the time and effort this very devoted team has committed to the project.

With the incredibly broad and bright future the Eclipse Edge Native Working Group offers, I encourage everyone to visit http://edgenative.eclipse.org/, review the ​charter​ and the ​Edge Native Working Group Participation Agreement (WPGA), or email us at membership@eclipse.org for more information. You can also join the working group’s mailing list to receive progress updates.

If you’ll be attending Edge Computing World on Dec 9-12 in San Jose, California, be sure to attend the Eclipse Edge Tools developer workshop on Tuesday, December 10 at 11:30 AM local time. Also, drop by and see us at our table in the main foyer on the second floor of the Computer History Museum, where we’ll be showcasing the ioFog, ​fog05​, and the Edge Native Working Group.

 

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