Foundations propelling growth of Internet of Things

Internet of Things has penetrated in all walks of life. Internet of Things has found its use case in all types of industries – agriculture, automative, healthcare, smart cities, wearables.

Building software systems which can interact with already built cloud systems needs a combined effort of all stakeholders. This where open source foundations play a pivotal role is defining standards for interoperability, building unbiased and vendor agnostic systems which benefit the entire IoT ecosystem. It provides a platform for all stakeholders to come together and collaboratively build software which benefits the ecosystem at large. Given the variety of use-cases that Internet of Things aims to solve, it’s not a feat which is achievable by a single company or organisation and therefore we see variety of open source projects by non-profit organisation coming forward to build a community.

Following Foundations have built software communities in the past and by and far led the Open Source movement as well. In this blog, I cover what role each of the following foundation plays and which part of the ecosystem are they benefitting.

  1. Eclipse Foundation’
  2. Linux Foundation’s CNCF group
  3. Linux Foundation’s LFEdge group
  4. Mozilla Foundation’s Mozilla IoT
Open Source Foundations propelling the growth of Internet of Things
Open Source Foundations propelling the growth of Internet of Things

Eclipse Foundation

IoT Working Group of Eclipse Foundation builds technology for IoT solutions. It has been active for the last 8 years and is one of the first groups in open source community in the IoT space.

The group is strong with more than 36 active projects under its governance and support from 42 companies which includes Eurotech, Huawei and Redhat. Each project addresses solutions for cloud, security, device management protocols, devices and edge gateways.

Eclipse Foundation’s IoT Developer Survey, now in its fifth year gives a good assessment of IoT ecosystem.

Eclipse Foundation has been exceptional in it’s community outreach efforts. Virtual IoT is a Meetup group frequently organises webinars discussing trends in IoT and Eclipse projects.

KubeEdge by CNCF

CNCF’s most popular project, Kubernetes, has initiated efforts to extend Kubernetes for developing and deploying IoT and Edge specific applications. IoT Edge Working Group is a recent development in the Edge Computing space.

This working document provide good insights on how working group has planned future developments.

Eclipse Foundation has partnered with Kubernetes community to build a complete solution for control plane and edge computing at large.

LFEdge by Linux Foundation

Linux Foundation, a non-profit organisation, founded in 2000, has been institutional in propelling massive adoption of Linux in the open source community. and build open projects which help its adoption.

LFEdge, by Linux Foundation is an umbrella organisation focussed on building a unified platform for Edge Computing. As of today, LFEdge is supported by 23 member companies – Baidu, Erricson, Intel, Huawei to name a few.

LFEdge is home to 5 projects of which EdgeXFoundry is one of the most popular and ambitious one. It aims at building a IoT Edge Middleware to suffice all kinds of use-cases in the IoT ecosystem.

Mozilla’s Web of Things

Project Things by The Mozilla IoT community is dedicated to applying Mozilla’s values to the Internet of Things. The community aims to extend lessons learnt in building World Wide Web and apply them to IoT. The core concept behind project things is to provide a standardised data model where each Thing – IoT gateway or constrained device can be accessed through an API. Project Things can provide a standardised way to provide interoperability between IoT devices.

It’s a project by Emerging Technologies team at Mozilla.

The Bright Future

It will be interesting to see how different foundations come together to define standards for interoperability of IoT devices and cloud counterparts. A large part of the effort is also driven in utilising existing stack and learning of building cloud systems and adapting them to edge computing. KubeEdge, Kubernetes for edge gateways’ whole premise is to build on the success of K8s to manage nodes in edge gateways. Mozilla’s experience in building browser can define data standards of referencing a IoT devices. As RESTful interfaces became a de-facto standard for interaction between websites, IoT devices can as well interact with each other over RESTful APIs. This is commonly referred as Device Twin or Device Shadow in the IoT ecosystem. Ditto by Eclipse Foundation is one such open source implementation with proprietary cloud platforms like Azure IoT and AWS IoT building their own versions of it.

It will be interesting to revisit this blog after few years to see which foundation has progressed in which direction. Let’s see how things progress in the coming years.

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