Linux runtime burrows into IoT

June 09, 2017

rick.merritt-June 09, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO – Amazon Web Services can now run on a gateway or even a high-end node for the Internet of Things. Greengrass is a Linux runtime from the Web giant, aiming to extend its reach deeper into the IoT.

The code aims to help businesses speed AWS-based IoT deployments. It uses Amazon’s familiar online tools to create programs that run on users’ local IoT networks, accessing and analyzing data from local IoT nodes. Since it's part of the AWS family, users can integrate with Amazon’s cloud services as needed.

“There’s value in processing data at the source,” such as quick response and a known security model using AWS authentication and encryption, said Dirk Didascalou, vice president of AWS IoT at an event here. A Greengrass node also can synch a variety of other nodes when connectivity is intermittent, he added.

The Web giant is perhaps the largest of more than 20 companies working on IoT software platforms for edge networks. It’s a hot area for a growing number of companies seeking their way into the Internet of Things such as Stanley Black & Decker.

The tool maker selected AWS IoT as its preferred cloud services platform two years ago. It evaluated about eight edge-network IoT platforms 18 months ago and selected one from startup ClearBlade (Austin). More recently it added Greengrass, and it expects to continue evaluating the growing set of offerings.

A 40-person central software team at Stanley Black & Decker sets software standards and develops code for business units trying to add digital services to their products. It helped create connected battery packs, vacuum cleaners and DIY apps among other projects to date.

The fact that Greengrass requires a GHz processor with 128 Mbytes of memory and must be programmed, for now, in Python are not barriers, said Hamid Montazeri, director of software engineering for the tool maker. Such chips are becoming increasingly cheap and Stanley Black & Decker already has staff using Python in AWS, he said.

Amazon attracted many partners for Greengrass given its clout in cloud computing.

Intel, Qualcomm and Samsung are among chip makers that have ported Greengrass to their embedded processors. Set-top box maker Technicolor will start shipping gateways that support Greengrass to one customer later this year. Nokia has a gateway it says will support the code, too.

Intel used Greengrass to bring up in two weeks an IoT use case for a mining company. Qualcomm showed a smart video camera from ThunderSoft using its Snapdragon 410E, supporting Greengrass. Samsung said its Artik 530 and 710 IoT modules support Greengrass.

The chip makers typically are agnostic, supporting multiple IoT cloud services. Qualcomm, for example, also supports cloud services for Google’s Android Things as well as Verizon’s IoT initiative.

Technicolor said it hopes Greengrass helps it address new vertical markets beyond the smart home. Separately, the set-top maker is already planning to integrate Amazon’s Alexa voice services in its products to help consumers set them up without the help of a technician.

Other hardware companies who said they will work with Greengrass include Annapurna, Digi International, Lenovo and Wistron.

Continue to page two on Embedded's sister site, EE Times: "Greengrass embeds Amazon in IoT."

 

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