LF Edge: Bringing Complementary Initiatives Together to Advance Emerging Applications at the Edge


Earlier today, we announced the launch of LF Edge, a new umbrella organization designed to establish an open, interoperable framework for edge computing independent of hardware, silicon, cloud, or operating system. The goal is to foster a unified, open framework that brings complementary projects under one central umbrella to create collaborative solutions that are compatible and support the ecosystem.

LF Edge is comprised of five anchor projects, which includes the existing Akraino Edge Stack, EdgeX Foundry, and Open Glossary of Edge Computing, as well as two new projects – Home Edge Project, and Project EVE, with seed code and initial architecture donated by Samsung and ZEDEDA, respectively. (More details on these projects are available on the new LF Edge website.)

Everyone is talking about Edge computing, but what does it really mean?

That is the million dollar question. Here’s how I like to define “Edge computing”: it’s a distributed computing paradigm in which computation is largely or completely performed on distributed device nodes known as “smart devices” or “edge devices,”  with between five and 20 milliseconds of latency (as opposed to primarily taking place in a centralized cloud environment). Edge represents a convergence of technologies that have recently matured or are coming to market, including: 5G, Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, Analytics, and Hardware. Related, emerging edge applications and convergence of these technologies are also demanding and fueling lower latency and accelerated processing.

Another way to answer the “what is edge” question is: anything that is non-traditional video,or  anything that is not connected that moves (e.g., drones, cars etc). These emerging technologies are really driving the market.  

All that said, there is a strong market opportunity for edge applications, and this spans industrial, enterprise and consumer use cases in complex environments across multiple edges and domains. Primary examples include industrial manufacturing, energy (oil and gas), retail, homes (including B2B2C use cases), automotive, with interest also from sectors such as  fleet/transportation, logistics, building automation, cities and governments, healthcare, and more.

Another leading use case for edge applications is video. Several months ago, IHS Markit interviewed edge computing thought leaders to discover which applications run on edge, deployment timing, revenue potential and the existing and expected barriers and difficulties of deployment. The survey found that 92 percent of the respondents cited video as the top edge application for edge computing, and that 82 percent of edge traffic will be occupied by video applications by 2020. (More details on this research are available in my blog post from September, 2018.)

LF Edge – Why Now?

The current edge market is heavily fragmented, with multiple proprietary stacks for each public cloud. Every application and hardware manufacturer has to certify for individual cloud platforms such as AWS and Microsoft Azure. The open source market for edge is also currently fragmented, with a proliferation of groups working in silos towards similar goals. By adopting the umbrella formula utilized by other existing LF projects such as CNCF and LF Networking, LF Edge will provide an open framework to address market needs for edge and IoT by combining new and existing stacks and consolidating them into one singular, customizable framework.

Additional benefits LF Edge brings to the ecosystem include the establishment of an edge framework that is independent of hardware, silicon, cloud, or operating system protocol and introduces location and latency differentiation to edge applications. LF Edge is well-positioned to collaborate across standards bodies and consortiums (e.g., IIC, AECC, OEC, TIP) by developing code that complements existing industry specifications. The project will also complement existing ecosystems such as AWS and Azure by introducing standard APIs.  

In sum, LF Edge was established to create a common framework for hardware and software specifications and best practices critical to sustaining current and future generations of IoT and edge devices. This new community-forged organization will will help ensure greater harmonization to accelerate deployment among the rapidly growing number of edge devices slated to exceed 20 billion by 2020.

To learn more about LF Edge, read the press release and visit the new website, www.lfedge.org. You can also follow the project on Twitter at @lf_edge.