AWS Launches Greengrass Software, Giving Partners A Way To Boost Edge Computing In IoT Devices

AWS on Wednesday announced the general availability of its Greengrass software, which the company said will enhance edge computing capabilities for Internet of Things devices.

"We are excited to make AWS Greengrass available to all AWS customers, and with AWS partners shipping AWS Greengrass-capable devices it is now incredibly easy to build and run IoT applications that seamlessly span devices on the edge and in the AWS Cloud," said Dirk Didascalou, vice president of IoT at AWS, in a statement. ’By embedding AWS Lambda and AWS IoT capabilities in connected devices, AWS Greengrass gives customers the flexibility to have devices act locally on the data they generate while using the AWS Cloud for management, analytics, and storage – all using a single, familiar AWS programming model.

AWS' newest Internet of Things service allows developers to write Lambda code that can run straight from devices, and is built for offline operation. This means that IoT data will continue to be processed even when connectivity to the cloud is temporarily unavailable.

[Related: Head-To-Head IoT Platforms: Amazon Web Services IoT Vs. Microsoft Azure IoT]

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Tolga Tarhan, founder and CTO of Sturdy Networks, an Amazon Web Services partner based in Irvine, Calif., said that he had seen heightened interest from customers around Greengrass.

"Every time we talk to customers about IoT, Greengrass is part of the conversation," he said. "Customers can benefit from Greengrass' offline capabilities, so devices can communicate even if they're offline. This opens a bunch of use cases for customers that were difficult before."

One such use case is AWS customer Rio Tinto, a global mining group that uses AWS Greengrass to measure road roughness and processes the data locally. Greengrass enables Rio Tinto to sidestep the issue of unreliable connectivity in extreme mining environments so that data can be processed regardless of harsh conditions.

Greengrass, which was first launched in a limited preview in December, builds off AWS IoT and AWS Lambda – a "serverless" compute service that enables users to run "stateless" code on servers - so that it will always run when triggered.

This feature is a big win for customers because it eliminates the complexity involved in programming and updating IoT devices, said Tarhan.

"I think that the main benefit of Greengrass is that it uses the same constructs that Lambda uses in the cloud, so partners and customers don't need to learn anything new and can leverage what they already use on the cloud side," he said.

Greengrass is made from two parts: the Core, which is designed to run on devices that have at least 128 MB of memory and an x86 or ARM CPU running at 1 GHz or better; and an IoT Device SDK that's used for building applications that run on the devices themselves.

AWS said each customer would be able to use up to three devices for one year at no charge. But beyond that, the monthly cost for each active Greengrass Core is $1.49 per year for up to 10,000 devices. The cloud company said that so far, Qualcomm, Intel, Samsung, and Lenovo are among its partners bringing AWS Greengrass to connected devices.