A fundamental characteristic of IoT, when viewed from the perspective of an enterprise IT organization, is the heterogeneity of the necessary physical compute infrastructure, especially IoT gateways. We define IoT gateway function to be the system that both bridges and de-couples the local area industrial communications protocols from the wide-area network. IoT is about measuring attributes of the physical world such as temperature, pressure, lumens, humidity and vibration. These attributes exist, and we would like to measure them, in widely different situations. IoT solutions that might be important to an enterprise may need temperatures from many different kinds of situations, offices, chemical reaction vessels, CPUs, flower beds, various motors. HVAC systems, coolers, solar panels, etc. Each of these temperature sensors might use different communications protocols. This means the IoT gateways that are used to collect and aggregate such data, will need different input–output (I/O) interfaces. Environmental conditions will be different as well, requiring different IoT gateways suitable to the target environment. The physical sensor/system manufacture’s business model and costing also come into play as various enterprise organizations and their budgets add to the choices of individual IoT solutions and the IoT gateways that are supporting it.
Given the above, I believe that such heterogeneity is here to stay at the physical infrastructure level. However, our recent announcement of the VMware Open Edge for IoT, an OS, management tool, and application development platform for IoT gateways, goes some way towards reducing the complexity introduced by the heterogeneous nature of IoT.
VMware Open Edge for IoT comprises the Photon Linux distribution, VMware’s Pulse IoT Center management platform for IoT infrastructure, and EdgeX, an open source platform for developing IoT gateway applications. It is the intent to be able to support Open Edge on many different kinds of IoT gateways thus abstracting, to some degree, the underlying physical hardware.
VMware Open Edge for IoT recently won an Embeddy award at the Embedded Technologies Expo & Conference, recognizing the most important advances and innovations in both embedded software and hardware solutions. Many people inside and outside of VMware helped make this possible and I thank them all for their hard work and belief in making this possible.