Amazon Web Services (AWS) is capitalizing on the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices by introducing a new software, called Greengrass, that will help edge devices process data and communicate with the AWS cloud.
About a dozen partners have already committed to integrating AWS Greengrass into their platforms, including Qualcomm, Rasberry Pi, Samsung, Intel, Lenovo, Saguna, and Canonical. The advantage of this integration means that devices and applications will be deployed more quickly.
Edge computing has become critical for IoT because of the proliferation of devices and the need for real-time communications. According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Forecast released today, IoT devices are expected to grow from 5.8 billion in 2016 to 13.7 billion by 2021.
IoT devices have limited processing power and memory, and they often rely on the cloud for processing and data storage. But transmitting data to the cloud increases latency and requires always-on connectivity. When that’s not available, IoT devices need to perform more tasks at the network edge.
Greengrass allows customers to use AWS Lambda to run code locally on connected devices similar to how they do it using AWS Cloud. Developers can also add Lambda functions to connected devices, and the devices can execute code locally and in real-time. Greengrass also includes an IoT messaging and synching capability so devices can send messages to other devices without connecting back to the cloud.
“By embedding AWS Lambda and AWS IoT capabilities in connected devices, AWS Greengrass gives customers the flexibility to have devices act locally on the data they generate while using the AWS Cloud for management, analytics, and storage – all using a single, familiar AWS programming model,” said Dirk Didascalou, vice president of IoT at AWS.
AWS first talked about Greengrass at its Re:Invent Conference last year. At the time, the company talked about making Lambda available closer to the edge of the network and closer to the end user.
The cloud provider appears to be ahead of its competitors — such as Microsoft Azure — with this capability. Although others have talked about the importance of edge processing, AWS is the first to introduce a software dedicated to doing it.
Enabling New IoT Services
For enterprises, Greengrass is appealing because it will allow new IoT services. For example, RioTinto, a mining company, said it is using Greengrass to measure the roughness of roads and process data locally so that its trucks can operate more safely and efficiently even if network coverage is poor. “We saw results from equipment in the field only two weeks after deploying the service. We’re evaluating additional use cases for AWS Greengrass in other areas,” said Brian Oldman, VP of industrial and operational technology at Rio Tinto.
Greengrass partners are already announcing their roadmaps for endpoint devices and chips that will have Greengrass. For example, Lenonvo said its ThinkCentre M Series710 Tiny Desktop with Ubuntu has already been tested and certified for compatibility.
Likewise Qualcomm said that it plans to port and pre-test the APQ8016E Qualcomm Snapdragon 410E system-on-a-chip (SOC) with Greengrass.