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When vendors band together to promote the adoption of a standard via a consortium, it’s usually a sign that it will benefit managed service providers (MSPs). At the Edge Computing World Conference this week, the Eclipse Foundation, which now oversees a variety of open source projects including a successor to Java dubbed Jakarta, announced the formation of the Edge Native Working Group.

The Edge Native Working Group is committed to building an end-to-end software stack that will can be employed across multiple edge computing use cases, including the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and autonomous vehicles. Founding members include ADLINK, Bosch, Edgeworx, Eurotech, Huawei, Intel, Kynetics, and Siemens.

Eclipse Foundation makes its first moves

The Eclipse Foundation is trying to distinguish this effort from other initiatives by working code, in the form of two separate Eclipse ioFog and Eclipse fog05 initiatives, states Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation.

From there, the Edge Native Working Group will focus on the development of various layers of open source software at the network edge, that will enable others to build customized applications without having to reinvent the same base platform, explains Milinkovich.

As great as that all sounds, there are already three other industry consortiums groups that have been formed. The Linux Foundation, for example, launched LF Edge, a consortium of more than 60 vendors that includes Ericsson, HPE, Huawei, IBM, Juniper Networks, Nokia, NTT, Seagate and Tencent.

There’s also the Open Edge Computing Initiative, a consortium that includes Microsoft, Nokia, VMware, Intel, Seagate, T-Mobile and Vodafone, and an Industrial Internet Consortium that counts Microsoft, Dell EMC, GE Digital, Huawei, and Bosch among its members.

In some cases, vendors such as Seagate, Microsoft, and Bosch belong to multiple consortiums focusing on various aspects of edge computing.

“It’s early still,” says Milinkovich. “A lot of companies are waiting to see what sticks.”

Individual vendors continue on

It’s also inevitable that these various consortiums will come up with multiple overlapping technology initiatives to solve the same edge computing use case.

In the meantime, individual vendors are plowing ahead with their own platforms because the size and scope of the opportunity is not likely to wait on various committees to formalize a standard. Amazon Web Services (AWS), for example, just formed an alliance with Verizon to drive 5G networking solutions at the network edge.

Overall, market research firms such as TechNavio are forecasting a 41 percent compound annual growth rate for the global edge computing market through 2023. That’s obviously on a relatively small base. However, by the end of the next decade there are those who expect edge computing will become a bigger market than cloud computing.

Of course, the line between what precisely constitutes an edge computing platform and a cloud service is already starting to blur. An edge computing platform assume some amount of data is being processed on a platform outside of a data center or cloud computing platform. However, the control plane through which that edge computing platform is managed will usually reside in cloud. If all the platforms are running some form of this so-called cloud native software that currently gets attached to everything, it may soon dissipate of its own accord.

In the meantime, when it comes to edge computing MSPs should plow ahead, while keeping one eye on the internecine struggles between various edge computing consortium. No one is in a better position to build, deploy, and manage edge computing solutions than MSPs. The only issue MSPs need to keep an eye on is to what degree any of these consortiums might create a de facto standard that might one day require them to retrofit an existing service. Otherwise, the more workloads that get pushed to the edge on various computing platforms, the better any MSP will become.

Photo:  Monster Ztudio / Shutterstock.

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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