Yesterday, the Linux Foundation introduced EdgeX Foundry, a new community of technology companies including NetFoundry who are working together to solve for the fragmented and frayed edge of the industrial IoT (IIoT).

As part of the launch, and physical demonstrations at Hannover Messe this week (the world’s largest industrial automation and technology gathering), EdgeX Foundry commissioned a business white paper from Moor Insights and Strategy, and we’re pleased to share it with our followers as an outstanding overview of the problems our platform and products also aim to solve.

Authored by Mike Krell, Analyst at MI&S, the paper recommends “vendors and operations- focused organizations looking to develop and implement highly scalable and cost effective IIoT solutions consider the newly formed EdgeX Foundry hosted by the Linux Foundation. This vendor-neutral open source project is chartered to deliver a flexible, industrial-grade software platform that can quickly, easily, and securely deliver interoperability between things, applications, and services at the network edge, across a wide range of IoT use cases.”

EdgeX Foundry is not a standards body, in the classic sense, rather an “organizing force” for ensuring large enterprises and organizations contemplating the design, development and deployment of IIoT systems can navigate the many vendors, protocols, approaches, best practices, data and analytics science, platforms, networks, and more.

Industrial IoT Presents Unique Challenges

Industrial IoT requires both physical assets, software assets, network assets, applications and cloud capabilities. Whether selecting hardware, software, firmware, middleware, connectivity or cloud providers, Systems Integrators and the businesses and organizations they serve have a plethora of options, and in an industry which is fast growing and still relatively nascent – this can trigger worries about risk. Will we select the right technologies? The right partners? How will the economics work as our IIoT deployments grow?

IT and operations teams are being forced to work even more closely together to deliver new value – the obvious and immediate value of instrumenting “things” to make their offices, factories, schools, hospitals, cities, airports, retail stores and more – more efficient.

EdgeX Foundry, with fifty charter members, including NetFoundry, is a “leading indicator” of the kinds of partnerships that will continue to form to unlock the massive true value of IIoT, and while there are dozens of other consortiums, open source or more commercial, the Linux Foundation’s experience and reach are what will make EdgeX Foundry work in the short and long term.

In this “must read” white paper, MI&S opens with this crystalline statement: “The IIoT environment never comprehended ubiquitous connectivity and is comprised of countless tools, development and operating environments, and connectivity standards. Combine these factors with an infinite number of potential industrial use cases across a myriad of vertical markets, and developing solutions that can quickly provide return on investment becomes a nightmare. How then do we get consistency or standardization to allow developers to deploy working IoT solutions quickly and easily while still allowing platform, hardware, and service providers to differentiate and monetize their value-add?”

Industrial IoT designers, the paper explains, are forced to become familiar with a plethora of:

  • Tool sets
  • Application development environments
  • Operating systems
  • Connectivity types including both standard and proprietary protocols
  • Cybersecurity defenses
  • Industry-specific standards

industrial iot iiot iot edgex foundry edgexfoundry

Noting that there are great efforts underway through existing organizations including the OpenFog Consortium and Industrial Internet Consortium and others, what is really required is a “reference architecture” being developed in a collaborative manner, and there is no better neutral and ubiquitous organization to lead in that direction than The Linux Foundation.

MI&S believes that “the edge” is where the most promise exists, and says in the paper, “The industry cannot become economically viable, much less scale, if every edge implementation is unique. The ability to rapidly integrate and interoperate a wide mix of best-in-class ingredients is especially needed at the network edge where myriad devices must connect with applications.”

Dell was onto this in 2015, driven by their partners and customers to figure out how to resolve connectivity for industrial IoT. Based on their work, they found common ground in focusing on the “north meets south” and “east meets west” distributed IoT fog architecture to “speed the plow.”

Krell explains:

  • Deliver not a specification, but rather a highly-scalable, industrial-grade open source edge software platform (including reference design) that could be hosted on edge devices such as hubs, routers, gateways, and servers
  • Provide best-in-class industrial-grade security, manageability, performance, and reliability while still maintaining extensibility
  • Enable a rich ecosystem of plug-in components that could quickly and easily deliver interoperability between things, applications, and services, across a wide range of use cases
  • Satisfy platform, hardware, and software providers of any size, as well as the end customer

NetFoundry’s contributions to the Linux Foundation and EdgeX Foundry are only just beginning. We are actively working with Dell as a new member of their IoT Solutions Partner Program, which we also announced yesterday, and are pleased to bring our unique service network approach to this new community. Our contribution includes the ability for designers and developers to spin up secure, resilient, high performance, pay-as-you-go private networks over the Public Internet using a software defined and policy driven overlay.

We’re disrupting connectivity in all good ways, connecting multiple clouds (private, public and hybrid), without the need for expensive, complex MPLS networks, VPNs, circuits or other legacy approaches.

We make spinning up IIoT service networks – private and secure – as easy and cost-effective as spinning up VMs.

You can download the Moor Strategy & Insights white paper here.

And you can reach us anytime to learn more about why we are investing in EdgeX Foundry, and how we can help you simplify and secure your “leading edge” IIoT solutions.