Author: James Butcher, IOTech Product Manager | EdgeX Foundry Core Working Group Chair
Key for supporting commercial edge IoT solutions
I’m really pleased to announce the general availability of Version 2 of IOTech’s Edge Xpert edge IoT software platform. We now support the very latest innovations from the EdgeX Foundry which greatly improve the performance and capabilities of the platform. In this blog I explain how those innovations and other new Edge Xpert features can really help simplify the work of edge IoT solution developers.
Edge Xpert and the EdgeX Foundry
First a quick explainer/reminder… Edge Xpert is an IoT edge application platform that lets users seamlessly bridge their OT and IT data. That means supporting the acquisition and integration of sensor, device and OT data, where it can be collected, normalized and aggregated in a simple and efficient fashion. Once acquired, we provide services to make use of that data – edge analytics, decision making, control, visualisation, storage, and cloud & IT streaming to name just a few. Usually deployed on IoT edge gateways and edge servers, Edge Xpert is the basis of more and more commercial edge software solutions.
Edge Xpert is based on an open source microservices framework called EdgeX Foundry. IOTech are heavily involved in the EdgeX community - both as a founding member and a continuing leader and code contributor. On top of the EdgeX technology (which I’ll talk more about in a minute), IOTech provide key value-add features and technical support to make Edge Xpert a trusted commercial product suitable for large scale deployment
Why is Version 2 important?
The last couple of EdgeX releases (EdgeX 2.0 codenamed Ireland and now EdgeX 2.1 codenamed Jakarta), have brought in many important new features and architectural changes. These core updates include:
- New and improved APIs for each of the microservices. Users programmatically accessing data via these APIs will see they are cleaner, simpler and more efficient than before
- The microservices now communicate with each other via an internal message bus. Advantages here include faster data flow from sensor to application, and flexibility to run the services on different machines. The previous mixture of REST and ZeroMQ between the layers of the platform meant that data flowing from devices to applications needed to flow through an intermediate “Core Data” service. With the new pub/sub message bus approach, the data flow is now decoupled, so application services can retrieve the data straight from the bus. Core Data becomes an optional subscriber and doesn’t impact optimum data flow. This all means that data can be accessed and processed much faster than before – which is key when insights need to be immediate. I wrote about some other important performance benefits in my EdgeX Jakarta performance blog earlier this year
- Simplified device profiles. This is the way in which users define the data that should be pulled from a specific edge sensor or device into the platform. The syntax of these devices profiles, which can now be specified in either JSON or YAML, is now much simpler and therefore quicker for the user to define
Check out this blog by IOTech CTO and EdgeX Chairman Jim White to read more detail about these EdgeX V2 updates. The EdgeX 2.1 Jakarta release has focused on stabilization of these new features, so with that now available, we feel the time is now right for the IOTech Edge Xpert product to commercially support these community-led innovations.
What else is new?
As well as those core EdgeX V2 updates, Edge Xpert continues to provide additional features for users looking to fast-track their edge IoT solution development.
Strong OT device connectivity (Modbus, BACnet, OPC-UA, Siemens PLCs, etc) remains vital. The simpler device profiles mentioned above, along with new features like auto discovery to simplify device onboarding (together with the internal message bus I described) make it more efficient to collect your device data than ever before. Device configuration tooling has also been enhanced and updated to match the new device profile syntax.
I’m also really pleased to mention Edge Xpert’s brand new management user interface. We’ve redesigned the UI to make interactions more intuitive and more complete. I really like the new dashboard feature that shows at-a-glance what is happening – e.g., the devices that are connected, the state of the services, and where data is being exported. The Edge Xpert Manager provides many other useful features such as being able to view and chart the data as it’s collected. See a screenshot below. But best is to try it yourself, of course!
This Edge Xpert release has really been the culmination of a lot of R&D work both at the EdgeX Foundry and within the internal IOTech engineering groups. Thanks to everyone involved. Please go-ahead and upgrade to Edge Xpert Version 2. You’ll find it easier to use and with more key features for getting your edge IoT solutions deployed and out to market as quickly as possible.