What is edge technology?

The edge is the frontier of embedded systems and the applications they run, ranging from hefty server infrastructure to bare-bones field devices, and from oil rig monitors to the controls for aircraft engines. In the Industrial Internet context, Edge computing represents a new architecture and set of capabilities that are differentiated from legacy on-premise applications and gateways because of recent technology advances such as low-cost computational power, virtualization technologies, ubiquitous, standards-based connectivity, and advances in cybersecurity.  

These new capabilities lie at the heart of offerings that drive transformational outcomes for industrial customers:
  • More cost-effective, cloud-enabled applications enabled by preprocessing and filtering data at the edge.
  • Improved productivity and performance derived from a new generation of analytics and applications at the edge that has not been available before.
  • Faster time to market for modern software-based offerings and analytics enabled by a modular architecture and full ecosystem of app development and deployment, and edge management capabilities.

What were customers missing in Predix Machine?

Predix Machine is based on the Java OSGi framework and supported single-container applications. Only the Java SDK is available for writing adapters or data rivers on Predix Machine.

With Predix Edge, Predix Machine customers get support for multi-container applications, support for a polyglot programming model, a local time-series database, the capability to remotely update the entire operating system, modular deployment of the edge software across different form factors and a turnkey solution, unlike Predix Machine SDK where the customer is responsible for packaging the end solution.

What is the difference between Predix Machine and Predix Edge? 

Predix Machine provides the capability to send data from an asset on the edge to the cloud. It enables data collection and transfer to the Predix Cloud, and remote management of edge devices via Edge Manager, a Predix cloud-based application designed to manage the lifecycle of large fleets of devices and edge applications. Predix Machine also ships with support for OPC-UA and Modbus protocol adapters.

Predix Edge, which distributes data processing across the edge and the cloud, provides the capabilities of Predix Machine packaged with additional offerings. Predix Edge is a lightweight, scalable set of modular software components that implements an edge application framework and application runtime environment.

The additional capabilities provided by Predix Edge include a hardened, secure OS with ~500 MB footprint. Predix Edge also enables management and monitoring of single-container and multi-container edge applications. Furthermore, Predix Edge offers a portfolio of edge application services, including protocol adapters (OPC-UA, Modbus, OSI-PI, EGD, MQTT). The Edge App Framework offers support for C, C++, Java, Python, node.js and Go. Predix Edge offers local management of the edge device via the Predix Edge Technician Console, without requiring connectivity to the cloud. Edge Manager provides the ability for remote OS updates in the cloud.

Predix Machine is deployed as an SDK or integrated in GE A&C devices, such as Mini Field Agent, and Connected Controllers. Predix Edge is offered as a virtual machine (VM) to deploy on existing customer infrastructure. Predix Edge will also be packaged with integrated devices, including Raspberry Pi and Dell 3000/Dell 5000 gateway devices.

Has Predix Machine End Of Life (EOL) been announced?

No. Predix Machine is in sustenance mode and we are making very limited development investment in it. No new capabilities are being added. We are in the process of assessing the Predix Machine install base to determine the scenarios that might require migration.

Should I switch from Predix Machine to Predix Edge?

Yes. We strongly recommend customers switch to Predix Edge. Predix Edge is a new platform that significantly adds to the functionality offered by Predix Machine. These additional features reduce customer time to value by providing rapid deployment, reduced development time, improved cybersecurity compliance and lower maintenance costs.

A few notable new capabilities are:
  • Inclusion of a secure OS that has been hardened for OT security needs.
  • Remote over the air OS update.
  • Multi-container edge app management and configuration.
  • Local management interface in addition to remote management via Edge Manager.

Predix Edge is a new platform and will be supported for years to come. In contrast, while an EOL has not been announced, Predix Machine sunset is imminent.

What is the difference between Predix Edge and Predix Edge OS?

Predix Edge is the brand name of the new software stack offered by GE, built under the Edge 2.0 initiative. During the development phase, Predix Edge OS was the informal name used by development teams to refer to the Yocto OS used within the Predix Edge stack. The OS within the Predix Edge stack has not been formally branded and is simply referred to as secure OS.

What is a Predix Edge VM? Why would I need an Edge VM?

Predix Edge VM is a ready to run Predix Edge on any hardware that supports ESXi 6.5 Virtual Machine. This is extremely useful for customers with a preference of particular vendor hardware and also makes it easy for adopting and deploying Predix Edge-based solutions. As this is on a virtualized platform, customers can use the same hardware to run other VMs alongside Predix Edge VM. This is easy to use and is agnostic to any particular hardware OEM. Predix Edge VM is ideal for running and hosting large complex analytics applications or have the need to ingest and process large volumes of data at maybe a centralized location.

Can I buy devices with Predix Edge pre-integrated?

You can buy a Predix Edge VM, which can be deployed in production on hardware that supports ESXi hypervisor from VMware.  As of Predix Edge 2.1 a developer image of Predix Edge is available for the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+.  We are currently in progress with OEMs to develop a turnkey offering that includes Predix Edge. If you are interested, please contact the Predix Edge Product Management team.

Can I deploy Predix Edge on a device of my choice?

Predix Edge supports Intel and ARM architectures.  For users who want to build their own systems or use their own devices, they can consume the source code repositories offered by GE Digital and add their own layers/recipes to Yocto in order to build their own Yocto-based image for ARM or Intel architectures. GED also offers embedded system developer support subscriptions for customers who need help getting started and/or on-going support.  If you are interested, please contact the Predix Edge Product Management team.

There is also an Ubuntu version of Edge Agent available that allows customers to quickly deploy their own Predix Edge enabled devices. However, this version does not benefit from the ability to improve the security, stability, and maintainability of the system through Predix Edge OS. A few key features are not supported on the Ubuntu version of Edge Agent, most notably the Predix Edge Technician Console (PETC) used for local, web-based management of a single device.
Note: The only version of Ubuntu supported is 18.04 LTS, and only for Intel/AMD processors (amd64/x86_84).

Can/when can I run Predix Edge on Windows?

Predix Edge GA release supports only Linux. Windows support will be available in the future. 

What is included in Predix Edge?

Predix Edge is a contemporary platform for applications that runs at the intersection of industrial control systems and the industrial Internet. You can use Predix Edge to send industrial asset data to the Predix Cloud or to deploy new applications to run in close proximity to an industrial control system.  

Predix Edge is composed of several systems that work together:
  • Predix Edge OS is a hardened Linux operating system that includes a container engine, a data plane for multi-container applications to share data, a protocol translator, a technician console for enrollment and management of the OS and applications running therein, an edge-to-cloud gateway for piping data to Predix Cloud services and an Edge Agent (described below).
  • Predix Edge Agent manages network interactions between the Predix Edge OS and both Edge Manager and the Predix Edge Technician Console.
  • Predix Edge Manager makes it easy to manage edge devices at scale. With Edge Manager, you can rapidly deploy multi-container applications and configurations to your edge devices and deploy configurations. The Intelligent Data Pump enables you to painlessly configure a data gathering application through a user-friendly interface.

What is the difference between Predix Edge and edge technology from other vendors?

Many other vendors have pieces and parts that an integrator is required to assemble and test. GE Digital provides a complete solution from soup-to-nuts including an industrial grade, hardened OS, protocol support, gateways to send data to the cloud, a data broker for sharing information between containers, an agent that talks to Edge Manager and an Edge Management capability that simplifies deployment and management of edge systems at scale.

Do I need two separate Edge Manager instances for my Predix Machine and Predix Edge installations?

No, one Edge Manager instance can accommodate both Predix Machine and Predix Edge installations.

Do I need to send my data to the Predix Cloud?

No, you are not required to send data to Predix Cloud, although you can if desired.