Amazon has announced AWS Greengrass — a service that will give the company’s iOT aspirations a huge push and enable it to bring its portfolio of services to connected devices. The service will let developers write code that can be run right on the iOT devices. And the best thing about the software is that it ensures that your iOT devices are ticking properly even when they are not connected to the Internet.
AWS Greengrass is software that lets you run local compute, messaging & data caching for connected devices in a secure way. With AWS Greengrass, connected devices can run AWS Lambda functions, keep device data in sync, and communicate with other devices securely – even when not connected to the Internet.
The software can also let IoT devices respond quickly to local events and operate with intermittent connections. Along with ensuring efficient operation, this also serves to minimize the cost of transmitting IoT data to the cloud.
Greengrass is the product of a new approach to iOT. Connected devices are usually low powered — both in terms of the electricity they consume and in terms of their CPU requirements. So it makes the most sense for them to derive all their power from the cloud and depend upon it for their computing needs as well. However, what happens when connectivity is down? Greengrass is meant to keep the grass green and iOT devices running even when no cloud is available — by leveraging the computational power available on the devices themselves.
It’s easy to take advantage of the cloud to supplement the power of these devices, but there are going to be times where you don’t want to make the round-trip to the cloud. What we have heard repeated now from both companies that are using AWS’ IoT offering and device management — what they really want is to have on these devices is the same flexibility and program model to do compute as they have on AWS.
And Greengrass provides exactly that. The software allows you to run all these Lambda functions locally, but also ensures that the devices have the ability to talk to the AWS cloud, should a need for the same arise. So basically, Amazon wants you to continue building your embedded systems for small devices as you were, but also grant them the additional privileges of being able to deploy cloud-aware tools and workflows.
The company is expected to partner with Intel and Qualcomm, Canonical and Amazon’s own Annapurna Labs to create devices that use Greengrass. 128 MB of memory and an x86 or ARM CPU running at 1 GHz or more is required before the device can run Greengrass cores. And yes, the software offers connectivity services that are totally secure.
AWS Greengrass can be programmed to filter device data and only transmit necessary information back to the cloud. AWS Greengrass authenticates and encrypts device data at all points of connection using AWS IoT’s security and access management capabilities. This way data is never exchanged between devices when they communicate with each other and the cloud without proven identity.
The service is currently available in preview. As with all other services, Amazon is offering a free tier as well. You’ll be able to use up to three devices for one year for free. After that you can rock one Greengrass core for around $0.16 per month/device for up to 10,000 devices.