Advancing the Orchestration of Distributed Edge Applications, ZEDEDA Integrates with Microsoft Azure IoT

By Arti Loftus February 24, 2021

It's one thing to build an edge solution for experimental Proof of Concepts or small, localized deployments, and another to develop and manage sophisticated, secure, and scalable distributed systems with computing nodes that can be monitored and managed remotely. Even when using Microsoft Azure IoT, there are still a number of manual, time-consuming steps required for deployments of any size.

Engineers and business leaders building out Azure IoT have been very strategic in rolling out new features and capabilities, including making Azure IoT Edge open-source to grow developer engagements to foster innovative edge solutions for IoT and other applications, including control systems often associated with Industrial IoT (IIoT). This is aligned with Microsoft's increasing investment in open-source that was galvanized with their 2018 acquisition of the popular GitHub open-source repository and community.

ZEDEDA's recently introduced orchestration solution for the distributed edge provides a unique, native integration with Azure IoT, giving developers access to easily deploy and manage the entire lifecycle of Azure IoT services on distributed edge computing nodes at hyper-scale, including the Azure IoT Edge Runtime and application modules along with any other desired apps.

In a press release shared earlier this week, ZEDEDA described the solution as one that "helps customers consolidate and manage a diverse mix of software workloads and edge hardware while harnessing the power of Azure IoT to drive new business outcomes," with a Zero Trust security model "from silicon to cloud ensures protection of critical data, assets, and processes spanning both OT and IT operations."

"The cloud-based ZEDEDA dashboard provides customers with a bird's-eye view into their entire distributed edge infrastructure, including the status of all computing nodes and applications," said Said Ouissal, ZEDEDA's CEO and founder. "With scale and security, they can instantly deploy all Azure IoT Edge services on large fleets of nodes with a single click and manage the full lifecycle of both the software and hardware."

Simplicity is a key aspect of the solution, which ZEDEDA says "simplifies all phases of scaling projects involving IoT, AI, 5G, networking and security technologies at the distributed edge, including distribution, integration services, and deployment."

"Azure IoT Edge offers customers the opportunity to transform their operations by bringing analytics and other workloads from the cloud to the edge, but customers often have complex computing environments that can pose challenges for scaling," said Tony Shakib, General Manager, Azure IoT at Microsoft Corp, "ZEDEDA enables businesses to easily deploy Azure IoT Edge solutions and manage them in a single pane with their other edge workloads."

The customer can choose their preferred hardware, and the solution then provides complete lifecycle management including edge hardware, EVE-OS, the Azure IoT Edge Runtime, Azure IoT Edge modules, and additional apps, and provides single-click bulk provisioning, simplified updates, and a built-in app marketplace. With Azure Device Provisioning Service (DPS) integration, the solution also enables instant, automated device onboarding, and connection to Azure IoT Hub.

ZEDEDA is leveraging within their orchestration solution the open-source EVE-OS developed as part of LF Edge within the Linux Foundation. EVE-OS is a universal edge operating system that addresses the risks associated with traditional "vendor lock-in" and has been designed to support the diversity of hardware and software cluttering the distributed edge landscape, which has prevented initial deployments from scaling up for more regionally and globally distributed solutions.

ZEDEDA's open orchestration solution supports any combination of Docker containers, Kubernetes clusters, and virtual machines (VMs) deployed on any edge computing node while connecting to any cloud. This solution enables customers to run existing legacy applications in VMs alongside cloud-native containerized applications while harnessing the power of the Azure IoT hyper-scale cloud to organize, monitor, query, and orchestrate changes across massive fleets of edge computing nodes.

ZEDEDA's Zero Trust security model and optimizations for deployment and management at scale provide the ideal foundation for Azure IoT Edge. Features include support for hardware root of trust (e.g., TPM), measured boot, remote attestation, encryption, I/O port blocking to prevent tampering in the field, and distributed firewall to govern data flow from edge to cloud. This policy-based, per-app firewall can segment field assets from upstream networks and data systems to protect critical operations.

ZEDEDA noted two large customers already using the integration; the solution has been in the works for a year and has been tested before this week's general release announcement.

"We are shaping the future of the packaging world where every phase in the production process is connected, digitized and automated," said Serge Morisod, Head of IoT Lab at BOBST. "With ZEDEDA, we sped up our production readiness in the area of device management by six months, and we received a first working proof of concept within a few days while becoming production-ready in less than two months." BOBST is a multinational packaging equipment manufacturer with service in over 50 countries.

"When we focused our company on MachineEdge's pump system optimization, we needed solutions to three challenges: updating software external to our Azure IoT Edge modules, holistic device security, and device monitoring. ZEDEDA provided a secure solution for device management and application deployment while future-proofing MachineEdge for new innovations," said Michael Thompson, CTO, PeopleFlo.

EVE-OS, the open-source edge component of ZEDEDA's solution, provides customers with long-term flexibility for orchestrating heterogeneous edge hardware and applications in the field. This ensures that they don't have to worry about vendor lock-in and obsolescence as their needs adapt. EVE-OS can be thought of as "the Android of the Distributed Edge," serving to unify a diverse hardware and software ecosystem, spanning the broader market and open-source community, ZEDEDA's own Open Edge Ecosystem and long-standing Microsoft partners.

To further help customers accelerate time to value, ZEDEDA is actively working with most leading hardware OEMs to qualify and pre-install EVE-OS on edge hardware in their factories. This enables customers to drop ship hardware to the field, and once power and networking are connected, the technician can leave the site and perform all lifecycle management functions remotely.

ZEDEDA and Microsoft are also working with leading system integrators and distributors to simplify all phases of scaling distributed edge computing projects for customers. This includes integration services, distribution, and deployment.

ZEDEDA also secured co-sell-ready status as part of Microsoft's One Commercial Partner program. ZEDEDA, Microsoft, and their partners go to market together to increase IoT and edge technology adoption in industries including oil and gas, manufacturing, energy, retail, healthcare, and transportation.

To discover more about the ZEDEDA Azure IoT integration solution for the distributed edge, register here to join a March 30 webinar (10 am PT). The webinar will feature a customer case study (BOBST) and an Azure IoT keynote presentation from Microsoft.

Arti Loftus is an experienced Information Technology specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the research, writing, and editing industry with many published articles under her belt.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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