Connect the Dots: Intel and Amazon Partner to Bring Data Analysis to the Edge

Create: 06/26/2017 - 14:30

Image source: Intel Corp.


If we’re going to have 50 billion IoT devices by 2020, that means deploying roughly 23,000, per minute, starting now, according to Geoff Mulligan, chair of the LoRa Alliance. He was being facetious, of course, but the point is valid. A lot of IoT devices need to be deployed quickly, easily and efficiently, and Intel and Amazon have partnered to enable just that.

Around the time that Mulligan was playing with predictions, Intel and Amazon were announcing the Enterprise IoT Developer Kit because one of the problems with having billions of connected devices, is potential network overload. Many IoT devices may only be streaming kilobits of data to the cloud, and only doing so sporadically, but billions of such devices add up quickly, and networks still need to “traffic cop” the data, provide adequate security and meet quality-of-service requirements.

Part of the solution to this potential bandwidth bottleneck is to minimize the amount of data being sent to the cloud for analysis by doing more analysis locally, in the gateway or in the end device itself, assuming it has the processing capability. It’s not a coincidence that Intel expects more edge devices will have more processing horsepower, as it fully intends to help make that happen.

That said, the independent research firm IDC also adds similar support. In a November 2016 study, it predicted that by 2019, at least 40 percent of IoT-created data would be stored, processed, analyzed and acted upon close to or at the edge of the network-associated drivers. Along with reducing wide-area-network bottlenecks, this also reduces latencies in mission-critical applications, like motor monitoring or smoke sensors.

Intel is a long-term supporter of this type of “fog computing” where analysis takes place at the optimum point in the network. As a company, it has been enabling smarter devices and a more intelligent edge with cloud and edge technologies that drive greater business value, edge analytics, deep learning and machine learning capabilities. With the Enterprise IoT Developer Kit, and its partnership with Amazon Web Services, it is providing IoT solution providers with one-stop shopping for many of the hardware and software tools required to get an IoT design off the ground.

The kit integrates sensors and the middleware protocol stack, and it includes Intel® IoT Gateway Technology, AWS* IoT and Greengrass-specific plugins, development boards and starter kits. AWS Greengrass software plays an important role here as it lets developers securely run local compute, messaging, data caching and synch capabilities for connected devices. With Greengrass, devices can run AWS Lambda functions to keep device data in sync and securely communicate with other devices, even when not connected to the Internet. The critical aspect is that it allows IoT devices to react quickly to local events, even if connections are intermittent.

Intel IoT gateways

Intel® IoT Gateway Technology and Intel® IoT Gateway Software let solution providers develop applications that scale from the edge to the cloud. (Image source: Intel Corp.)

Greengrass has a number of other interesting nuances. While it extends AWS to devices so they can act locally on their own data, the devices can still use the cloud for management, analytics and durable storage. Software can be developed in the cloud, and deployed en masse to devices, with Greengrass authenticating and encrypting data at all connection points.

The Enterprise IoT Developer Kit also comes with Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) to support a variety of programming languages, libraries to support I/O and sensor interactions, documentation and code samples.

The Intel® IoT Gateways combine Intel gateways with the Intel® IoT Gateway Software Suite, and the combination enables scalable solutions to aggregate data, from the edge to the cloud.

Of course, data takes different forms. We recently discussed imbuing IoT devices with Alexa-based voice services, thanks to a partnership between Microsemi and Amazon. Since then, Amazon made an offer to buy Whole Foods. While that’s interesting for consumers, in that they’ll be able to verbally order food, for IoT solution providers, the deal shows the importance of data, which will be a bit part of what Amazon gets if the Whole Foods deal goes through.

As data comes from sensors, next week we will revisit the topic to see the latest in sensing, including a look at haptics vs. proximity radar sensors for automotive in-cabin applications. The man-machine interface is getting more and more interesting.

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Patrick Mannion
Patrick Mannion is an independent writer and content consultant who has been working in, studying, and writing about engineering and technology for over 25 years.

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