As a pioneer of the IoT industry, I am afforded somewhat of a unique perspective. Over the past 20 years, I have seen IoT go from the “Why Would We Ever Do That?” stage, when no one understood the benefits of connecting the physical world to the digital, to now, when every company on the face of the earth fancies themselves Google and wants to be the “on-ramp for the digital transformation of the physical world.” Pick your number, but 50 billion has probably been the most popular, and there is a lot of value to be unlocked by connecting that many things.
However, with every company making their own claim to this bonanza, cooperation between competing standards, approaches, and companies, has been VERY limited – VERY VERY LIMITED. So, when Dell approached us about a new initiative to drive IoT interoperability through open sourcing via the Linux Foundation, I was intrigued.
The EdgeX Foundry provides a “Rosetta Stone” approach to the disparate approaches around IoT. Think of it as
A gateway that can talk to anything on one side, do interesting things with those things it talks to, and then send the results and data to any cloud destination.
The best part? By being an open sourced and a standards-based initiative, companies are incented to add their special brand of connectivity or cloud-service to it, or risk being left out.
I was involved in a standard in the mid-90’s called OPC (OLE for Process Control), for those who actually remember Microsoft’s push for an interconnectivity standard for Windows (called OLE at one time). OPC was and still is the most successful approach for connecting the myriads of different industrial communication standards. It was a hugely successful initiative with every company in the industrial space supporting it, and it solved a fundamental problem. Connectivity to the real-world for everything is expensive and hard to do – and most companies make their money on capitalizing on that connectivity – and most end-users accrue benefit only from that capitalization. So, everyone was incented to cooperate – and cooperate they did.
I see the EdgeX Foundry as a very similar initiative. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a very messy space. There are sensors, controllers, gizmos of all shapes and sizes. I have never seen a factory with stuff from just one vendor – it is a HETEROGENEOUS soup of connectedness. If the actual users of those things are going to benefit from the promise of IIoT, it is going to be from high level coordination – FROM MANY VENDORS. With open connectivity on both sides and open processing in the middle – the EdgeX Foundry is the best approach to this.
Now you may ask, why does RevTwo care about this initiative – aren’t we a support platform? Well the answer is simple – with millions of EdgeX gateways operating in the wild, there will be the need to securely provide and syndicate support between multiple vendors (Box and Component Vendors) and users. That is RevTwo’s bread-and-butter. So, we are in!
Now onto making that 50 billion connected devices and sensors and the value it promises a reality.