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The Linux Foundation brings order to the edge

By Marilyn de Villiers
Johannesburg, 31 Jan 2019
LF Edge aims to develop an open, interoperable framework for IOT and edge computing.
LF Edge aims to develop an open, interoperable framework for IOT and edge computing.

In a move aimed at solving the problem of the fragmentation of the edge market, The Linux Foundation has launched LF Edge.

The new umbrella organisation is tasked with establishing "an open, interoperable framework for edge computing, irrespective of hardware, silicon, cloud or operating system".

In its announcement, the foundation noted that far greater harmonisation of the anticipated 20 billion edge devices likely to have been deployed by 2020 would be required for the full potential of the Internet of things (IOT) to be achieved.

Edge computing enables connected devices to process data where it is created (at "the edge" of the network), reducing latency and providing an alternative to sending data to a centralised cloud or data centre for processing.

Arpit Joshipura, The Linux Foundation's general manager, said the intent with LF Edge is to create a common framework for hardware and software specifications and best practices, all critical for sustaining current and future generations of IOT and edge devices.

The foundation has done this in other areas before, with projects like Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Cloud Foundry, Hyperledger and Open Container Initiative.

"The current edge market is heavily fragmented, with multiple proprietary stacks for each public cloud. Every application and hardware manufacturer has to certify for individual cloud platforms, such as AWS [Amazon Web Services] and Microsoft Azure. The open source market for edge is also currently fragmented, with a proliferation of groups working in silos towards similar goals," Joshipura explained.

"By adopting the umbrella formula, LF Edge will provide an open framework to address market needs for edge and IOT by combining new and existing stacks and consolidating them into one singular, customisable framework."

He believes LF Edge will enable collaboration across standards bodies and consortiums by developing code that complements existing industry specifications, and complements the existing ecosystems, including AWS and Azure, by introducing standard APIs.

More than 60 global leaders in open source, edge and IOT have already pledged their support for the new organisation. They include AT&T, Dell EMC, Ericsson, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Nokia, Qualcomm Technologies, Red Hat, Samsung Electronics, Seagate Technology, Tencent and ZEDEDA.

LF Edge kicks off with the contribution of code from AT&T's Akraino and Dell's EdgeX Foundry projects, as well as the foundation's own Open Glossary of Edge Computing project.

It also includes a new project contributed by Samsung Electronics, Home Edge Project, which will create a hub for real-time data collection through smart home devices; and Project EVE (Edge Virtualisation Engine), contributed by ZEDEDA to create an open and agnostic standard edge architecture.

Explaining his company's decision to support the LF Edge initiative, Roman Shaposhnik, VP of product and strategy at ZEDEDA, said end-to-end cohesion required big companies to come together to foster the space for industrial collaboration and emerging architectures.

"This initiative provides critical leadership - not just a piece of the edge puzzle - with the ultimate output being working code," Shaposhnik added.

Oliver Spatscheck, assistant vice-president at AT&T Labs, agreed, stating the launch of LF Edge would accelerate edge innovation and drive real business value by bringing a diverse set of edge players under one roof.