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An Open-Source Project for Internet of Things Gateways

With EdgeX, gateways will contain standardized code for sending automatic commands, provisioning devices, and cleaning up metadata so that it can be organized faster and more accurately.

Fifty companies, including Dell and Ubuntu founder Canonical, are throwing support behind a new open standard for edge computing. The project, called EdgeX Foundry, is the latest endorsement for standard gateways that sit between sensors inside factories, office buildings, and city infrastructure – and the cloud.

The standard, which is still under construction, debuted at the Hannover Messe trade show this week in Germany. It aims to lower the cost and complexity of installing gateways, enabling simple data analysis and device control much closer to sensor nodes. These gateways will not always need to communicate with the cloud, where the most intense data-crunching takes place.

Developing gateways with EdgeX requires little more than snippets of standard code, which will be free. The code organizes the transfer of information from sensors in things like manufacturing robots, offices, and shipping trucks – to gateways or servers on the edge. That allows companies to mix-and-match operating systems, hardware, and software for Internet of Things systems, saving money.

EdgeX is a “modular architecture is designed to help anyone easily build edge computing solutions with preferred hardware, software, standards and services while minimizing reinvention,” said Jason Shepherd, director of Internet of Things strategy and partnerships at Dell, which supports the standard, in a statement.

The project is supervised by the Linux Foundation, the industry group behind the open-source operating system. But support for EdgeX also stems from the organizations behind the wireless energy harvesting standard EnOcean and cloud application standard Cloud Foundry.

The standardized code originated from a Dell project codenamed Fuse, which was revealed last year to rally the concept of edge computing and drive sales of Dell’s gateway boxes. With EdgeX, gateways will contain around 125,000 lines of code, which erect a software layer between different messaging protocols.

That code will enable the gateways to send automatic commands, provision devices, and clean up metadata so that it can be organized faster and more accurately. With these services standardized, businesses will have less work to do updating an Internet of Things system.

The concept behind EdgeX is not exactly new. A rival project called Kura is aiming to standardize code for internet gateways used in fog computing, a term coined by Cisco for shifting basic cloud functions to the edge of a business’s network. Kura would define how gateways sift through feedback from sensors, sending only the most vital information or worst failure alerts to the cloud.

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