ZEDEDA Cloud is ZEDEDA's comprehensive and scalable cloud-native solution for orchestration and management in distributed edge computing.
This brief explains the ZEDEDA solution using an example enterprise called Grid-Connect, who use ZEDEDA for their edge orchestration and management.
Grid-Connect uses the ZEDEDA solution for managing edge devices deployed on their wind turbines. They have many wind farms across the USA, and within each farm they have hundreds of turbines. Their organization's most important business assets are these wind turbines, which are highly distributed geographically, often in remote locations. Having a secure and reliable remote management solution is crucial to their business.
Grid-Connect uses ZEDEDA to increase the security and reliability of their wind turbine management. Using ZEDEDA, their IT department can repurpose their existing industrial PCs by installing them with the open-source EVE-OS. They also leverage existing networks and IT infrastructure to easily onboard and manage their upgraded edge devices.
Grid-Connect uses both the web-based interface of ZEDEDA as well as the scripted automation afforded by ZEDEDA CLI. The ZEDEDA solution API further enables secure interfaces to third-party cloud applications specific to their business domain. IT administrators create projects for logically grouping hundreds of edge nodes by geographical location. They also add users and assign roles to distribute the workflow appropriately. For example, segmented user groups responsible for a particular wind farm (with multiple turbines) need access rights to their region's edge assets and infrastructure.
The following illustration shows how Grid-Connect uses ZEDEDA to orchestrate all their edge nodes across their wind farms.
Starting from the bottom, the rows in the diagram show:
- Business Assets: wind turbines that must be remotely managed.
- Sensors: over one hundred sensors are deployed on each turbine.
- Networks: Grid-Connect uses a few different connectivity methods, some local to the edge and others to connect to the cloud.
- Edge Nodes: edge computing devices can be further subdivided into these three layers.
- Hardware: with specific IO and network adapters.
- EVE-OS: the open-source operating system running on the hardware.
- App instances: software applications deployed to edge nodes and managed through ZEDEDA Cloud.
- External Connections: ZEDEDA Cloud also manages access to third-party cloud providers or other on-or-off-premise servers.
- User Interfaces: web-based, scripted, and programmatic interfaces offer layered access depending on use cases and user roles.
- Users: various roles assigned to users provide them with different privileges to operate their ZEDEDA enterprise.
The following sections address each of these aspects of the ZEDEDA solution in more detail.
Every business has important business assets. For Grid-Connect, a wind turbine is the most important asset. It requires several IT infrastructure components including, hardware, and software to manage and maintain optimal energy output across all its turbines.
Because business assets vary greatly across different industries, the flexibility of the edge orchestration is also critical. For example, a car manufacturing company's key business assets would be the assembly line robots to assemble an automobile. There isn't one generic robot but rather a long chain of different ones which perform very specific, complex functions, and monitoring must be performed at each step for accuracy along the way. The ZEDEDA solution is agnostic to the type, number, and variety of business assets that a company needs to securely and reliably manage.
Data from hundreds of sensors are used to monitor the proper functioning of a wind turbine. Several accelerometers (that measure changes in velocity or speed along 3 axes) are used in wind turbines to detect and monitor vibration. Abnormal vibration within the main, yaw, slew bearings, and other rotating components, can indicate wear or other possible issues. Additional sensors that measure temperature, humidity, and other environmental parameters are also monitored to improve operational insight for future enhancements.
Let's take an example of one particular sensor, an audio sensor that is used in wind turbines. The audio sensor records sound produced by the wind turbine continuously. The recorded audio is then processed by software in the cloud to determine the mechanical health parameters which are used to predict maintenance requirements.
Networks are an important part of any distributed solution. Local connectivity is used to tie sensor and actuator data to edge node applications. Remote connectivity can then tie those applications to public or private clouds or even other edge servers. Most businesses, including Grid-Connect, will make sure local operations (on its turbines) continue undisturbed, even if remote connectivity is temporarily unavailable.
Because Grid-Connect has most of its business assets in remote rural locations, they often use LTE (cellular/mobile) networks to connect wind turbine data and applications to the cloud. Some wind farms also support Wi-Fi networks to connect several wind turbines, and sometimes they can be connected using wired LAN cable networks.
Hence, the ZEDEDA solution is agnostic to the network requirements so that customers can take advantage of various network technologies.
A computing device running EVE-OS is called an edge node. In this case, each business asset (wind turbine) would be considered an edge node in ZEDEDA Cloud. If a turbine has more than one onboard device running EVE, it would be represented by more than one edge node in ZEDEDA Cloud. Customers can choose to create their edge nodes using a variety of industrial PCs and edge gateway hardware, supporting both ARM-based and Intel-based (AMD/x86) hardware architectures.
Many models from various device manufacturers have been tested and shown to work well with the ZEDEDA solution. Even inexpensive devices, such as the Raspberry Pi 4, could be used for prototyping and testing.
Grid-Connect deployed an industrial PC model manufactured by a popular device manufacturer.
The ZEDEDA solution for the distributed edge uses EVE-OS, a secure, open-source, universal operating system that prevents lock-in through truly vendor-neutral, open APIs.
Learn more about LF Edge Virtualization Engine at this link.
Customers can use custom-built, third-party applications on their edge nodes to manage various business processes.
Grid-Connect has developed several software applications, including the following:
- Turbine audio analysis software collects streaming audio recorded by a microphone near the turbine shaft and analyzes it. The analysis includes machine learning algorithms to find patterns in the audio data. Those patterns are used to predict the need for maintenance or give alerts of abnormalities that might result in future breakdowns.
- Optimum output regulator software records and measures many environmental parameters such as humidity and pressure and may change turbine speed and other controls to guarantee optimum energy output.
- Maintenance Scheduler software lets the maintenance team collect data from many wind turbine sensors, including the rotor speed and friction at various points, and uses those parameters to predict an optimized maintenance schedule. This helps the maintenance team schedule onsite visits and refine their analysis regularly to maximize the efficiency of the maintenance cycles.
Each of the three applications needs to interface with different sensors. The ZEDEDA solution offers the fine-grained control needed to determine which applications access the industrial PC's available IO and network ports (southbound network adapters). As more custom or 3rd party applications are needed, the ZEDEDA solutions allow them to be securely deployed on the Edge Node without interfering with existing applications. If the edge node of the turbine is online, the tools and applications to improve maintenance and management of the wind turbine can be updated as often as desired.
In general, the ZEDEDA solution helps remotely deploy and manage all applications running on edge nodes with ease and efficiency. Applications running in containers, modules, or entire virtual machines are supported.
IO and Network Adapters
Every Edge Node typically includes several network adapters such as LAN, WLAN, USB, COM, AUDIO, WiFi, BT, LTE, etc. These adapters may be used to interface the edge node to sensors and other input/output (IO) devices and external communication networks.
Adapters connecting to sensors on a business asset
Edge nodes typically come with a variety of IO adapters to connect to external or internal interfaces. Grid-Connect wind turbines use various IO ports to connect sensors like humidity, temperature, acceleration, and more. A microphone (audio sensor) is also deployed near the turbine shaft and connected to the input audio port.
Network adapters to connect with external sources
The sensors continuously generate large amounts of data. Some data are processed locally by the edge applications, and some are pushed to the cloud to be processed by larger applications. Even in the locally processed case, summary data also needs to be pushed to the cloud.
In Grid-Connect, this outbound data streaming happens over one of the external networks, Wi-Fi or LTE. The outbound network adapters of the edge node are allocated to be used for this purpose.
Most edge infrastructure devices are not islands. Instead, they need to be integrated with other applications running in the cloud and/or on-premise. ZEDEDA gives its customers this freedom of choice -- to connect edge data to any public or private cloud or on-premise servers. Grid-Connect was able to adapt a popular cloud solution using the updated edge architecture and orchestration. ZEDEDA's powerful integration capabilities enabled a straightforward migration path.
ZEDEDA (GUI and CLI)
ZEDEDA delivers visibility, control, and security for the distributed edge implementing a secure connection to edge nodes running EVE-OS. EVE-OS is an open-source implementation that is part of the EVE project in LF Edge. EVE-OS is tailored to simplify the orchestration of deploying containers and clusters (e.g., Docker and Kubernetes) and virtual machines (VMs) to run both cloud-native and legacy applications on any edge hardware (ARM, x86, or GPU). The ZEDEDA Cloud solution further enables customers to connect their edge nodes to any cloud or on-premise system. By enabling freedom of hardware, application software, and cloud at the distributed edge at scale, ZEDEDA provides the flexibility that customers demand to avoid vendor lock-in and consolidate workloads while future-proofing edge deployments.
Grid-Connect uses ZEDEDA GUI and ZEDEDA CLI to remotely perform management and maintenance operations across all edge nodes (deployed in each wind turbine). The orchestration of edge nodes and applications by ZEDEDA allows its developers to manage the edge with a multi-tenant “cloud-native” environment, which saves time and resources for managing large-scale IoT infrastructure.
Developers can securely provision resources, monitor application performance, and perform large-scale software lifecycle management on globally distributed systems via ZEDEDA all while focusing resources on business-driven app development instead of getting buried in complex edge IT and network/firewall rules that are typically required to run legacy embedded devices and apps.
A User Agent is a term used to describe the interface between users and the ZEDEDA platform. The programmatic link lets users create, read, update, delete, and configure all assets exposed within ZEDEDA. Two user agents are available, one connected to a web-based GUI and the other allowing interaction via a command-line interface.
ZEDEDA management is available from either or both of the following:
- ZEDEDA CLI–command-line interface (python based)
- ZEDEDA GUI–web-based graphical user interface
ZEDEDA CLI is a simple Command-Line Interface, hosted as a Docker application, enabling nearly all ZEDEDA functions.
Most of the IT admins at Grid-Connect are quite comfortable using the simple ZEDEDA CLI interface to provision new edge nodes and monitor their health and status over time because they can script or copy and paste commonly used commands.
ZEDEDA GUI also offers an elaborate and easy-to-use web graphical user interface (GUI). The web-based interface makes it easy for IT admins and application developers to explore, browse, and add their own edge applications, then deploy them on existing or new edge nodes. Once certain tasks are understood and tested, they can perform many such tasks in parallel by applying them to nodes. At Grid-Connect, most app developers prefer using ZEDEDA GUI for its simplicity to learn and explore the availability of edge apps in the ZEDEDA App Marketplace. The marketplace includes example and test apps and enables easy lifecycle management of a vast array of useful containerized software applications, operating systems packaged as VMs, and other tools. In the future, the marketplace will allow enterprises (or any software company or organization) to sell their custom-developed applications to other ZEDEDA customers.
ZEDEDA provides a comprehensive API that you can use to create custom, programmatic edge asset management and orchestration solutions.
A typical team of ZEDEDA users is composed of IT administrators, application development teams, and operational technology experts.
ZEDEDA supports the principle of least privilege model of IT administration by providing the ability to configure user privileges by role.