Author: By James Butcher IOTech Product Manager | EdgeX Foundry Technical Steering Committee Chair
Smarter, Lighter and Better
IOTech's Edge Xpert "Kamakura" release lightens the load for edge developers
The latest Edge Xpert release, now at version 2.2, adds key new features to make development of edge solutions easier than ever. Based on EdgeX Foundry’s “Kamakura” release, Edge Xpert 2.2 includes new time-saving features such as auto discovery of devices and a low memory footprint API security gateway. In this blog, I explain how these new features help lighten the load on developers seeking to create the most optimal and efficient edge IoT solutions.
EdgeX Technical Leadership
By the way, this is the first blog I’ve written since being elected as the Chair of the EdgeX Foundry Technical Steering Committee (TSC). It’s a great honor to be leading this fantastic community of open-source developers and I’m excited for the continued future of the project! This summer we released EdgeX version 2.2 (codenamed “Kamakura”) with the next (“Levski”) planned for November. With the help of the other members of the TSC and the wider community, it’s great to be working towards the new release already. Feel free to join us for the weekly TSC meetings (every Wednesday at 8am Pacific Time) where we discuss progress, roadmap and so on.
Productizing EdgeX Foundry
At IOTech, we build on top of the EdgeX releases to produce Edge Xpert – our commercially supported edge computing platform. We add a range of special features to the base EdgeX technology to make a solid product for those trusted commercial deployments that our partners and customers need.
Kamakura and Version 2.2
Since Edge Xpert uses EdgeX Foundry as its basis, we are gaining new features in our product with each new release cycle. Key updates added by EdgeX Kamakura include:
- Metrics telemetry collection with an initial configuration for the Core Data service
- Support for the delayed start of services but for them to still receive security tokens without a restart of the platform
- Support for the dynamic updating of Device Profiles while the platform is running
- New Camera Device Services allowing for the command and control of both ONVIF and USB-based cameras
Key New Edge Xpert Feature: Automatic Device Discovery
One of the key aspects of EdgeX is how it enables the easy collection of data from a wide range of OT devices and sensors. EdgeX provides a number of reference device service connectors for some of the common edge protocols (e.g., Modbus, BACnet, MQTT, etc). Edge Xpert provides a much larger set of industrial-grade device connectors (e.g., adding BLE, OPC UA, Siemens S7, WebSockets and many others), but we also greatly enhance those reference connectors provided by the Foundry. One of the key additions is automatic discovery.
Widely used in building automation, the BACnet protocol, for example, provides enough information at the protocol level to allow the possibility of device discovery. With the help of the underlying Edge Xrt technology, we can utilize that information to make the dynamic discovery and automatic onboarding of BACnet devices to the platform a reality.
The Edge Xpert BACnet device discovery process is fully configurable, so the user has full control of which devices are discovered and how they are onboarded. This means the time needed to configure and roll-out the solution to a specific building, for example, can be done far quicker than ever before. With the help of nice additions in the Edge Xpert Manager UI, users can see the devices that are discovered, accept them into the platform and the data can begin to flow. This is just one example of how we are making the use of Edge Xpert as easy as possible. The features added to this Edge Xpert version of the BACnet connector probably warrant a whole blog on the subject! Stay tuned for that, but in the meantime you can read about the new capabilities in the latest docs here.
Since Edge Xpert is IOTech’s commercial and value-add implementation of EdgeX, we are free to offer different services to those provided by the open-source project. Along with the device connectors, another area where we do that is security. The standard API gateway (reverse proxy) service provided by EdgeX has many great features, but its footprint and memory consumption are not ideal for the lightweight edge. Edge Xpert 2.2 replaces the standard API Gateway with a much lighter implementation. The security footprint is reduced by around 80% so it is a huge reduction and means Edge Xpert can be deployed on more constrained platforms than before, but crucially still maintain its security capability. This is just not possible with open-source EdgeX right now.
New Look and Feel
Finally, this release of Edge Xpert is the first to adopt the company’s new branding. The new Edge Xpert logo helps show where the product fits in relation to its sister products Edge Xrt and Edge Builder.
The Edge Xpert Manager UI has also been enhanced and updated. As well as a fresh look and new options for viewing, filtering and editing the devices, device profiles and so on, new features include the ability to view and acknowledge system alerts that the platform produces. This all gives operators a clear view on the live status of the running edge system. Our customers and partners are often rolling out Edge Xpert-based solutions to their own customers, so we have added a new feature that lets users deliver the UI with their own branding, logos and colors etc. So Edge Xpert can be used directly, or be provided as part of OEM-based solutions.
Accessing the latest release
So once again, thanks to everyone involved at the EdgeX Foundry and within IOTech for helping to produce this latest version of Edge Xpert. Please go-ahead, upgrade and let us know feedback. I’m always happy to hear from our users because it helps ensure the product continues to be the most comprehensive yet open edge computing platform on the market.