Table of Contents
ClearBlade is a software-based platform focused on providing application deployment and management solutions for hardware running at the edge. The solution’s key strengths include flexibility of deployment, ease of integration, and enhanced developer experience. The small footprint of ClearBlade’s software at the edge enables the solution to be deployed on existing IoT hardware, avoiding costly rollouts of new hardware in potentially difficult-to-reach places.
The ClearBlade data platform is cloud-agnostic and can integrate easily with existing back-office applications to enrich datasets and augment existing information for better decision making and more efficient operations. ClearBlade also recognizes the importance of developers when working with IoT and edge solutions, supplying SDKs in multiple languages and adopting open adapter frameworks to help developers snap into existing solutions.
Developing IoT applications from the ground up is a challenging proposition for many internal teams. ClearBlade understands the challenge and has created the open-source IoT Package Manager (IPM), allowing developers to share their complete solutions, including Code Services and Code Libraries. An open ecosystem like IPM accelerates the development process and reduces time to market for new IoT solutions. Based on conversations with customers of ClearBlade, GigaOm has heard first-hand about the immense value delivered by the developer-friendly tools and services provided by ClearBlade.
Based on the taxonomy established in the “Key Criteria for Evaluating Edge Infrastructure” report, the ClearBlade solution falls under the category of Platform Systems (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Categories of Edge Infrastructure
The ClearBlade Platform consists of two primary components: ClearBlade Edge and Platform. The ClearBlade Edge component runs on an edge device and is responsible for local management of the device and running applications deployed from the ClearBlade Platform. The ClearBlade Platform runs on one or more compute nodes in an on-premises data center or in a public cloud provider. The Platform accepts connections from ClearBlade Edge devices, collecting data, hosting updates, and managing policies and applications.
Management of the ClearBlade solution is delivered through the ClearBlade Console, a web UI, and an API endpoint. The Console can be used to access, create, and configure assets on the platform.
The ClearBlade Edge has an extremely small footprint and is designed to run on IoT hardware with minimal resources. The current version requires a Linux-based operating system, 64MB of RAM, and 64MB of storage. ClearBlade Edge supports a variety of CPUs, including variants of the x86, ARM, PowerPC, MIPS, and s390x architectures. The ClearBlade Edge software can run in a mode that is disconnected from the ClearBlade Platform. For downstream communication, it supports common connectivity protocols such as MQTT, REST, and Unix sockets. ClearBlade Edge also has adapters for many other protocols, including BLE, Zigbee, SNMP, Modbus, and more. Upstream communication is initiated by the ClearBlade Edge software, rather than by a push from the ClearBlade Platform that potentially could require opening inbound firewall ports. On the ClearBlade Edge device, business logic can be implemented along with data transformation and streaming.
The ClearBlade Platform runs on one or more nodes, a Virtual Machine, or bare-metal server. The nodes can be run by the customer in a location of their choosing, or hosted by ClearBlade for customers looking to avoid the administrative overhead of managing the nodes. Customers who choose to self-host incur a higher administrative burden, but they gain flexibility around where and how the ClearBlade Platform is deployed. For highly regulated industries, the ClearBlade Platform can be run from the customer’s own data centers or a disconnected location. Other customers are free to deploy the solution in a public cloud provider or colocation environment as they see fit.
Edge deployments can scale quickly from tens of devices to tens of thousands of devices. The ClearBlade Platform was designed to scale both vertically and horizontally to accommodate massive device deployments. According to the company, a cluster of 20 nodes running the ClearBlade Platform can support one million highly active ClearBlade edges and up to 100 million end devices.