EdgeX Foundry Looks to Thwart Vendor Lock-in at the Industrial IoT Edge 

By Chantal Polsonetti

Industry Trends

IT and OT professionals alike are aware of the numerous means by which their installations can be subject to reliance on a single vendor or ecosystem.  Programming and development environments, supported protocols, interfaces, and execution platforms, as well as vendor-specific knowledge requirements, are just some of the factors that can lock you into a specific vendor.  Among other impacts, this scenario can impede interoperability and result in rigid, high cost applications incapable of incorporating the latest performance innovations as they arise.

The advent of the Industrial IoT and its associated emphasis on edge-to-cloud integration, along with the recent industry emphasis on edge computing, elevates the need for seamless interoperability between edge devices, as well as the rest of the architecture.  But, as ARC’s ongoing research on the industrial IoT edge reveals, edge applications and associated infrastructure are increasingly embedding edge platform agents specific to given cloud providers, perpetuating the potential for lock-in to a specific supplier’s ecosystem.

The Linux Foundation’s EdgeX Foundry activity looks to thwart the potential for vendor lock-in by providing open source tools and technology that promote fundamental interoperability at the industrial IoT edge.  This interoperability is designed to reduce, or eliminate, switching costs associated with traditional vendor lock-in, enabling developers and customers alike to focus on the business value of their applications rather than the nuts and bolts of integration plumbing. 

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The open source EdgeX approach looks to achieve this by creating a decoupling point in the architecture that enables data scalability and management, as well as incorporation of heterogenous components.   Universal data trustworthiness is a core value proposition of their approach, along with platform and OS independence via hardware and software abstraction.

Targeting Industrial and Retail Requirements

The EdgeX Foundry deliverable is horizontal in nature, providing a means for suppliers to provide a trusted open source, interoperable, container-based platform intended to meet most application requirements for both speed and determinism.  The current release provides soft real time performance at 100 to 150 milliseconds with a footprint of approximately 50 MB.  The Akraino Edge Stack project, a complimentary effort within the parent LF Edge organization, targets 5 to 20 millisecond operation, primarily for cable TV and telecommunications applications. 

Future updates providing incremental baseline security and more application availability are targeted for delivery at six-month intervals.  Video analytics and smart machines are primary targets for EdgeX Foundry effort, making it applicable to many emerging industrial IoT applications.

Material for this blog was drawn from ARC’s coverage of the industrial IoT edge as well as from briefings with LF Edge and EdgeX Foundry leadership.

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