Last week, Amazon launched Greengrass, their new IoT platform allowing developers to create intelligent edge software. Amazon is collaborating with a variety of manufacturers to make Greengrass available on as many devices as possible from home gateways, industrial gateways to smart microphones. This is a reflection of the increased appetite from hardware vendors and developers to bring software definable devices to market, where third party developers can add new functionalities to existing devices and get rewarded for it. By deploying more intelligence at the edge, developers can build devices with more offline functions, faster responses that are cheaper for them to operate and give users an improved experience. By offering software definable devices they also give themselves the opportunity to offer a continuously improving experience but also new paid services that help them monetise their device even after they’ve been purchased.
AWS Greengrass is a step in this direction and solves one of the major problems associated with the software definable internet of things, namely how to give developers a simple and familiar development experience on edge devices by letting them re-use their backend code. With AWS Greengrass developers can now use the same skills and code they use in the cloud to write Lambda functions of MQTT based rules to write internet of things applications right at the edge of the network.
For device makers, building a software definable device using AWS Greengrass is, therefore, the guarantee of building an attractive option for developers. To facilitate this process Amazon has collaborated to make Greengrass available as a snap – the universal Linux packaging format. Snaps allow software companies like Amazon to distribute their software in immutable packages that will run consistently across hardware independent of the operating system they use and regardless of the state of that OS. This makes it simple for device manufacturers like Advantech to include Amazon Greengrass in their devices and thus propose a certified Greengrass device for developers to use. Combined with Ubuntu Core, the all snap version of Ubuntu for IoT devices, Greengrass as a snap also offers an opportunity for device makers and developers to monetise their software by building an app store for things.