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IoT and Edge in 2022: Looking Back & Looking Forward

At last, 2022 is with us. In my native Canada, the month of January usually brings polar temperatures — think -25 Celcius (-13 Fahrenheit) and below. When it is so cold outside, it is a good time to think about the past year and look forward to the year ahead. In that sense, January is the perfect name for the month. You see, the month of January is named for the Roman god Janus. Janus is the god of beginnings, time, and transitions in ancient Roman religion. He is represented as having two faces; he could see the past with one and the future with the other. In this post, I will consider both the past and future of the Eclipse IoT and Edge ecosystem.

2021 was great!

When I look behind, 2021 has been a banner year for us. Our celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Eclipse IoT working group at EclipseCon has been a wonderful moment, and our community is stronger than ever. Moreover, the 2021 edition of the Eclipse IoT and Edge developer survey report has made quite an impact. Since the report launched on December 8, 2021, close to 2,500 IoT and Edge enthusiasts and professionals have downloaded it. All of this would not have been possible without our contributors and committers' hard work and dedication. Thank you, everyone!

2022 will be even better!

When I look to the year ahead, I see plenty of opportunities for our community. In my opinion, the three most exciting ones are Sparkplug, CORE-V, and Rust.

Through 2021, the committers to the Eclipse Sparkplug specification project have worked hard to improve the specification document. This was necessary to make it clearer, easier to understand, and simpler to implement. In 2022, the team will publish the first version of the Sparkplug specification under the Eclipse Foundation Specification Process. In parallel, the Foundation will launch the Sparkplug compatibility program. This will provide a robust foundation for the working group and technology to grow. Our survey showed that MQTT dominates the field of IoT protocols, with 44% of respondents stating they use it. However, the lack of interoperability in the MQTT ecosystem is still a concern. Sparkplug changes that, which is why it will see significant growth in 2022.

The only thing better than open-source software is open-source software running on open-source hardware. RISC-V has seen significant adoption recently. 8% of the respondents to our 2021 survey mentioned they use processors based on the ISA. Moreover, 6% said they leverage chips based on the open-source CORE-V designs developed by the OpenHW Group. I expect those numbers to be even better in 2022. IoT developers need stable, validated platforms to work with. CORE-V delivers that in droves, with flexibility that most proprietary designs simply cannot offer.

Finally, there’s Rust. C is still the number one programming language for constrained devices in our survey, with C++ also part of the top five. There are many reasons for that. C is fast and portable. It is the cornerstone of a whole ecosystem of tools, frameworks, and libraries. However, it leaves memory management to the developer, which results in more security issues. Rust emerged as a credible alternative to C since it provides error-proof memory management. In our community, Eclipse zenoh is written in Rust. Our friends at Red Hat have also built a constrained device and Cloud stack at the Drogue IoT project. I see those two projects collaborating in 2022, and I suspect other Rust-based projects will appear in the Eclipse IoT lineup.

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