AWS CEO Andy Jassy predicts that as more workloads move to the public IaaS cloud, companies will reduce the number of servers they will manage and the new definition of on-premises infrastructure will increasingly be Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
“More and more companies are deploying connect IoT devices,” he notes, from factories, ships, cars, oil rigs and agricultural machines. “Every place they have assets, they want to be able to collect and analyze data.”
The problem, Jassy says, is that many of these devices tend to be relatively limited in their capabilities with a very small amount of CPU and disk. “There are times when you don’t want to make the roundtrip to the cloud and back,” he says, for assets that live in places without internet connectivity, or for processing that needs to be done with very low latencies.
Amazon launched AWS Greengrass today as an answer to this problem. Greengrass is a collection of software capabilities that customers and original equipment manufacturers (OEM) can use to embed Lambda compute and other services, such as messaging into IoT devices. Lambda is AWS’s event-driving computing platform that executes compute tasks triggered by events. The idea is that Greengrass-enabled devices can execute code locally using AWS programs, then when appropriate, the data can be sent to the cloud for storage and broader analysis.
OEMs will be able to use Greengrass code or software development kits (SDK) to implant the functionality directly into devices, or customers can upload the software into existing devices, such as a Rasberry Pi.
Greengrass also allows devices to send messages to other devices and back and forth to the cloud. “Customers want their IoT devices to be able to perform computing tasks and process data locally, functioning as a seamless extension of their AWS environment,” explains Marco Argenti, vice president, Mobile and IoT at AWS. “AWS Greengrass makes this possible by putting a ‘mini AWS,’ a select set of AWS capabilities, inside connected devices.”
Peter Christy, an analyst at 451, said Greesgrass is an innovative way to extend Amazon’s cloud edge into IoT devices, especially those that need to be able to perform some compute capacity without a network connection.
Greengrass is in limited preview. Customers can connect up to three devices per year to Greengrass for free; for up to 10,000 devices customers can pay $0.16 per device per month, or pay $1.49 per year.