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Linux Foundation Aims To Advance Edge Computing With LF Edge Effort

The new open source umbrella group will initially have five projects helping to enable and support the emerging need for edge computing.

 By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Jan 24, 2019
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The Linux Foundation announced the formation of the LF Edge organization on Jan. 24, in an effort to help advance the state of open source, interoperable edge computing.

Edge computing is an emerging model for IT in which resources are distributed across the edge of the network to collect and analyze data. Edge requires a different model for networking and resource management than the cloud or even traditional on-premises networking.

The first five projects joining LF Edge include Akraino Edge Stack, EdgeX Foundry, Open Glossary of Edge Computing, Project EVE (Edge Virtualization Engine), and the Home Edge Project. While some of the LF Projects are networking-focused, the overall effort is not directly related to the Linux Foundation's LF Networking organization.

"LF Edge has its own governance, and the scope of it is beyond networking and telecom and includes IoT, enterprise and cloud," Arpit Joshipura, general manager, the Linux Foundation, told EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet. "It’s similar in structure - LF Edge provides a neutral structure for building a diverse open source community capable of driving better, more secure development at the edge."

LF Edge Projects

Joshipura said the initial group of LF Edge efforts are complementary projects that will work together to create a framework for the edge across telecom, enterprise, IoT and cloud.

Three of the projects were previously standalone efforts within the Linux Foundation's Collaborative Projects. Akraino, which joined the Linux Foundation in February 2018, is focused on edge cloud infrastructure for carrier networks and was created by AT&T.

The EdgeX Foundry project came to the Linux Foundation in April 2017 from Dell, as an open framework for IoT interoperability. The Open Glossary of Edge Computing effort was announced in June 2018 as a joint initiative from Vapor IO and Packet to help create standardized terms around Edge computing.

Home Edge

Home Edge is a new effort coming to the LF Edge with seed code coming from Samsung.

"It is built off EdgeX Foundry run-time code, and specifics of orchestration and storage for Home are being contributed," Joshipura said. "The framework is independent of Samsung devices."

Project EVE

Project EVE is another new effort coming to LF Edge, which is being seeded by work done by startup Zededa. Joshipura said Zededa is in the process of transitioning early work done on the Project EVE framework to LF Edge by February. Joshipura expects that there will be an open source code release by mid-year.

Roman Shaposhnik, co-founder of Zededa explained to EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet that EVE is specifically addressing on-premises devices - not datacenter and not devices located in a “Metro Area” mini-data center. The problem that EVE addresses is two fold, according to Shaposhni.

The first is that common datacenter virtualization software is not designed for on-premises hardware and it has cost limitations and many limitations on security.

"So managing a fleet of edge gateways, for example, and orchestrating software on those devices is not as simple as using datacenter virtualization software," Shaposhnik said.

The second issue that EVE is aiming to help address is the fact that the on-premises edge is highly heterogeneous hardware. Shaposhnik said that EVE is to the edge hardware what Android was to the mobile phone market in 2003. Application developers rejoiced because they don’t need to adapt their application to every combination of phone hardware, they can write their applications to Android. The hardware manufacturers adapted Android open source to their hardware and end users never had to see if their hardware was compatible with the app they want.

"EVE has that effect on edge hardware - app developers design apps to run in edge containers that work on EVE and any compatible hardware will support the app," Shaposhnik said.

Zededa was founded in 2016 with a technology vision of creating the Cloud Native Edge. For that to be a reality, Shaposhnik said that the company had to develop edge virtualization software that would work on any hardware, over any network, with an application.

"In the cloud world, open source community effort is the only path to truly creating standards for app development on multi-vendor hardware," Shaposhnik said. " Through our relationship with The Linux Foundation we found they were thinking along the same lines and their deep experience and success with setting defacto standards for the Cloud via the Cloud Native Compute Foundation, would serve as the best model for creating software that is meant to run on any device."

Shaposhnik added that Zededa contributed its endpoint code and APIs to the LF Edge project to allow the Linux Foundation's governance experience to take over and grow the project. Zededa is also contributing an OCI (Open Container Initiative) standard compliant, application packaging format called Edge Containers. By being OCI compliant, Edge Containers will be compatible with existing Docker container deployments.

"Edge Containers play the same role for EVE that APKs play for Android," Shaposhnik said. "As an application developer you only care about packaging your application once and then run on any EVE-enabled devices."

LF Edge Projects

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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