Edgeworx emerged this week out of stealth mode with its open source ioFog platform, joining a long list of companies looking to gain a foothold in the emerging edge computing space.
The company’s platform is based on the Eclipse ioFog open source project and targets developers looking to deploy and manage any application or containerized microservice at the edge. Edgeworx co-Founder and CEO Kilton Hopkins noted that challenges within the edge computing space are “deep enough and wide enough that the only sensible way to approach it is to divide and conquer.”
“Our goal is to bring a full software layer down to the lowest edge layer possible and to make building for the edge as easy as building for the cloud,” Hopkins explained via email.
The platform includes three basic technologies. The first is its “engine” that turns any compute hardware into an intelligent edge device capable of remotely deploying and managing microservices. It does this by monitoring the health and resources of that device to allow for operating at the edge.
The second is its Edge-to-Edge Mesh Network that creates a private connection between those edge devices. This removes the need for information to be sent to the cloud, through a VPN, or a network address translation (NAT) layer unless necessary.
The final piece is its Pure Edge Security that uses hardware root of trust and microservice verification to create a secure peer-to-peer connection. The company claims that this produces a more robust security posture as more devices are added to the network.
The platform itself can run on top of Linux with a recommended 256 megabytes of RAM support and a dual-core ARM processor.
Hopkins explained that the platform can sit in various layers of the edge stack. That can begin at what he described as the first layer above an actual device in the field. This level is where hardware like an IoT gateway, a low-powered wide-area (LoRa) base station, or a cellular base station would be located.
Hopkins said this layer is “the first place where you can do any aggregate processing and the last place where you can add context to those simpler data streams coming up from below without losing information. This is the first layer where Edgeworx plays, and it’s our speciality.”
Edgeworx can also work on the next layer up the stack, which Hopkins described as the on-premises micro data center layer. This layer can support more powerful processing and storage to handle large-scale data processing but is further removed from the source data.
And finally, the ioFog platform can operate at the edge of the cloud and the central cloud. In this layer the platform can be used to interconnect all of the edge locations with a private edge compute network.
Join the Party
The platform is similar in concept to Resin.io, which recently changed its name to Balena. That platform uses Linux-based containers and cloud technologies to support IoT deployments. Those efforts revolve around separating core operations of the IoT device from the application layer.
It’s also somewhat similar to Zededa, which emerged from stealth mode earlier this year. Zededa offers a software platform that can be deployed on virtually any edge device in support of IoT. This involves a lightweight software stack that can adapt to different deployment models.
And there is also IoTium, which offers both hardware and software to support IoT deployments. It uses a physical box to support the infrastructure transport layer and microservices technology based on container applications to decouple application development from deployment. This allows companies to move applications instead of data to the edge and alleviates the need to move data to the cloud, which can cause compliance, security, and latency headaches.
Hopkins did not mention those platforms directly, but he said the ioFog platform differentiates itself in the market by creating a dynamic edge compute network that makes the data appear local to the developer, but is actually delivered point-to-point over any connection transport used by the edge nodes. It also provides full control and awareness of data flow so that data policies can be applied to specific edge nodes, geographies, or situations.
The ioFog platform is being released under the Eclipse Foundation. That group was formed in 2004, having emerged from the Eclipse Project that IBM founded in late 2001. It’s focused on supporting Eclipse open source projects, with the most well known being the Eclipse multi-language software development environment platform.
It’s also focused on enabling the use of open source technology in commercial software products and services using the Eclipse Public License (EPL). It now counts more than 275 members, including Oracle, Red Hat, SAP, Docker, and Ericsson.
The foundation last month joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in creating the Kubernetes IoT Edge Working Group. That effort is focused on using Kubernetes to manage IoT and edge networking deployments. This includes developing key use cases and architectural requirements.
Hopkins explained that Edgeworx is the commercial organization that provides ongoing maintenance to ioFog, but the project is owned and managed by the Eclipse Foundation. “That means that other organizations and individual contributors are welcome but Edgeworx is committed to ongoing delivery of Eclipse ioFog updates regardless,” he said.