Windmill Enterprise, developer of the Cognida network and platform with a focus on enterprise blockchain innovation, joined the Linux Foundation this week, and two projects – the Linux Foundation Networking community and EdgeX Foundry.
Windmill joins existing Linux Foundation members like AT&T, Google, IBM and DellEMC, and companies including Samsung and Analog Devices who are working collaboratively with the EdgeX Foundry community to address complex issues at the edge of IoT and Industrial IoT networks.
When mobile blockchain meets edge computing, IoT and IIoT developers have a decentralized data management framework available. Despite their being thousands of projects using blockchain in service today in finance, healthcare and logistics, its application in mobile services including IoT remains nascent.
Part of the challenge may due to blockchain users needing to solve for proof-of-work, in other words a block, to the blockchain. This consumes substantial resources in terms of CPU time and energy, which presents a conundrum for resource-limited mobile devices.
To facilitate blockchain applications in the future mobile Internet of Things systems, Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) will help.
Blockchain works as a decentralized public ledger which can store and protect data, with an immutable record of transactions not managed by a central authority.
Blockchain outperforms centralized ledger approaches by strengthening security by avoiding single point failure issues and security attacks.
Data is recorded by the blockchain which automatically forms a linked list data structure to indicate logical relationships between data added by multiple parties.
No centralized entity is required to maintain data blocks. Instead, the data blocks are copied and shared over an entire blockchain network to prevent system failure, data manipulation, and cyberattacks. We are seeing this work today on some connected systems, including the smart grid, but are still early in the advancement of blockchain as applied to IoT.
Clearly there are challenges to overcome, including the physical requirements for computing at the edge and the choice of network access protocols, and overall networking models.
Mobile edge computing may allow service providers to deploy cloud computing services at the “edge” of the mobile Internet particularly as 5G spectrum-based LTE networks come into use.
Perhaps this explains why Windmill is joining not only the Linux Foundation per se, but two linked projects, including the Linux Networking Fund, which harmonizes multiple open-source projects associated with open networking but not necessarily IoT applications.
This gets interesting when large Communications Service Providers (CSPs) like AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink and other in the US, and hundreds of CSPs around the globe figure out they can sell “as a service” secure interactions at the edge of mobile networks, including those associated with IoT devices. They can drive new revenue and value to customers by selling resources such as data and computing power and security.
Cloud is another aspect, and recently Google joined the Linux Foundation as evidence of the value being seen in open source, collaborative communities. Cloud and blockchain integration is happening today; for example, Microsoft provides Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) on the Azure cloud platform.
IBM provides their Watson IoT platform to manage IoT data in a private blockchain ledger, which is integrated in IBM’s business-level cloud services.
Still, we’re early and Windmill is actively developing their own open source foundation which will leverage their Cognida Network and platform.
It’s not going to be easy, which is why it makes sense for companies to team up.
For Windmill, this means deploying IoT solutions to secure physical endpoints and digital assets within the enterprise, especially as enterprise adoption of IoT continues to grow. In the realm of Industrial IoT, it means improving and securing increased automation in factories and beyond.
One of the contributing companies to Windmill, IXOT, has been a member of the EdgeX Foundry project from the beginning, and will continue to actively support the advancement of IoT and Industrial IoT edge innovations positioned to remove the barriers associated with the “last mile and last millimeter” of connected systems deployments. (The edge continues to be the hardest challenge).
“We share a vision with Linux, from our views on Industrial IoT and general open telecom infrastructure solutions to overall innovator empowerment,” said Michael Hathaway, CEO of Windmill Enterprise. “As such, we created Cognida as a blockchain agnostic platform to offer a suite of enterprise class security solutions that accelerate adoption of IIoT platforms like the Linux Foundation’s Edgex Foundry into enterprises. Windmill will continue to forge ahead with our collaborators to provide the tools for enterprises to adopt sensible and practical, open source IIoT and blockchain security solutions. With our membership, we look forward to collaboration with Linux Foundation and its other members.”
“The greatest value in the IoT is the data,” Hathaway also said. “We look forward to bringing our expertise and tools to bear on making it easier and more efficient to securely harness the value through more advanced data management approaches.”
Windmill will also be participating with the LF Networking group (LFN), which unites seven top networking projects to increase harmonization across platforms, communities and ecosystems.
The Linux Foundation currently hosts 9 of the 10 largest open source networking including ONAP, OPNFV, OpenDaylight, FD.io and others which together form the new networking stack.
“I’m thrilled to see the continuous expansion of the EdgeX ecosystem, especially among contributors that are focused on distributed ledger technology,” said Jason Shepherd, Chair of the EdgeX Foundry Governing Board and IoT CTO, Dell Technologies. “Combining these technologies with open frameworks like EdgeX will help us realize the true potential of IoT– a system of systems with pervasive trust.”
Earlier this month, Windmill announced it is also supporting one of the most active but less well-known open source communities tackling Identity Management, FreeIPA.
Last month, Windmill announced partnership agreements with Rivetz and Vault Wallet.