Building an Innovative, Open-Source IoT Platform for Edge Computing
One of the biggest enablers for progressing IoT is the push for companies to obtain more and better data to remain competitive. Organizations need data to perform enhanced services, predictive maintenance, and real-time analytics. Yet, it’s difficult for real-world locations, such as hospitals, warehouses, and oil and gas companies to develop and deploy software to these “edge” locations quickly and inexpensively.
Kilton Hopkins, a technology visionary, Founder and CEO of Edgeworx, wanted to evolve IoT (Internet of Things) using edge computing and open source. In need of a software delivery partner to help accelerate his vision, Hopkins approached Forte Group. What started as a software engineering project grew into Forte Group integrating Kilton’s open-source IoT edge platform across healthcare, retail, and technology enterprises.
Aiming to provide developers with a better way to build for IoT, Edgeworx, rethought the way data was processed. The company sought to create an advanced, open-source environment where developers could remotely run and manage software on any device closest to where the data resides (the edge) to allow business enterprises to gain time, reduce cost, and deliver accomplished multifunctional and flexible solutions.
A team of Forte software engineers initially focused on running Eclipse ioFog on Linux and later installed a new version of the product compatible with other operating systems. The team used an advanced technology stack composed of mesh network technology, machine learning on the edge, fog computing, and Linux kernel API to build a highly secure, open source platform.
To connect devices and sensors, integrate with various systems, and allow for real-time data processing and logic on the back-end, Forte’s development team worked with Edgeworx to create a microservices architecture. The team then used the Edgeworx ioAuthoring application to orchestrate and manage the edge software (microservices). These two components provide a full set of technologies for building and running IoT software that executes wherever a developer chooses and in whatever programming language they choose.
Once the ioFog platform was built, Forte Group assisted in the development of tools (SDKs) to make it easier and less expensive for companies to utilize ioFog for their applications. The SDKs that Forte designed give developers the ability to write in languages they already know, making it easy for them to develop containers, microservices, policies, and processes that work in the IoT middleware stack.
We love organizations like Forte Group and other integrators…They have the subject-matter expertise…We do not want to be in the business of writing applications. We want to be the platform that serves those applications; we want to be the infrastructure for the edge.
With Edgeworx ioFog, building for the edge is as easy as building for the cloud. It’s container-based architecture, which Forte helped build, allows developers to easily leverage any language, framework, or SDK. Not only does ioFog make building edge applications easier, but it also offers businesses a secure, cost-effective solution.
Having the subject matter expertise working with ioFog, Forte was able to use the platform to design and develop custom applications for businesses looking to be successful at the edge, but who didn’t have the time or technical capability to do so.
“This is how we’re going to be able to have our technology help across every vertical, essentially: people like Forte Group that already have the industry relationships and the know-how,” Hopkins said.
Two of Forte’s recent IoT projects utilizing ioFog include:
- Healthcare: A large hospital was having difficulty accurately locating patients and portable medical devices with its existing hub technology. Using ioFog, Forte created a list of connected devices and wrote algorithms to prioritize the connected devices based on signal quality. As a result, patient positioning and device tracking significantly improved.
- Retail: A retailer was looking to improve its customers’ in-store shopping experience by making it easier to locate store items throughout its sizeable retail space. Forte Group used ioFog to create an indoor navigation application. Customers can now add products they want to purchase within the app and, similar to GPS-tracking, the app guides the customer to the product in the store.