What is the state of IoT & edge commercial adoption in 2021?

July 14, 2021
Open source is key to the continued adoption of IoT and edge technologies.

By Frederic Desbiens, program manager, IoT & Edge, the Eclipse Foundation

Earlier in June 2021, the Eclipse Foundation released the 2021 IoT & Edge Commercial Adoption Survey Report. In this second edition of the survey, we wanted to gain a better understanding of the overall challenges of today’s IoT and edge ecosystem, particularly for industrial organizations. We also wanted to identify the primary concerns of today’s organizations deploying these technologies, particularly in industrial settings.

The results? We found that, despite the pandemic gripping much of the world in 2020 and into 2021, that IoT and edge adoption has continued to grow significantly since 2019. The survey also revealed that:

● IoT technologies are being adopted at an accelerated rate. 47% of respondents currently deploy IoT solutions and an additional 39% plan to deploy within the next 12-24 months.

● Edge computing adoption is also picking up. 54% of organizations are either utilizing or planning to utilize edge computing technologies within 12 months. Another 30% have plans to evaluate edge deployments over the next 12-24 months.

● 74% of organizations factor open source into their deployment plans, a 14% increase over the  2019 survey. This clearly demonstrates that the dominant IoT & edge platforms will either be open source or based on open source.

● The top IoT and edge operational challenges include 1) End-to-end IoT solution monitoring and management; 2) Device management; and 3) Securing the network/devices/data.

● There is a trend towards a hybrid-cloud strategy. 44% of respondents suggest that their IoT deployments are using, or will use, a hybrid cloud (i.e. composed of two or more distinct cloud infrastructures such as private and public), an increase from 22% in 2019.

Reading between the commercial lines

The survey asked respondents to identify the requirements, priorities, and challenges they’re facing as they are planning, implementing, and managing commercial IoT and edge solutions, including those based on open source technologies. Based on those responses, here are some recommendations for IoT and edge ecosystem stakeholders: 

Industrial enterprises:

—Should select vendors and service providers that embrace open standards and the use of customizable, production-ready open source building blocks. Open source enables scalability and flexibility in IoT and edge solutions, while avoiding the lock-in and cost issues associated with proprietary solutions. 

—Should start planning deployments of IoT and edge technologies at scale. The ecosystem has matured significantly, allowing enterprises to be more ambitious in their IoT and edge initiatives. With a robust ecosystem, industry leaders can confidently deploy and start realizing the full benefits of the technology.

Solution providers:

—Should incorporate open source platforms that are capable of running seamlessly across all environments (i.e. at the edge, on-premises, and in the cloud), with a focus around hybrid, multi-cloud, and private cloud offerings that enable customers to avoid using a public cloud for their mission-critical data.

—IoT-focused solution providers should add edge computing into their offerings. Enterprises are increasingly becoming aware of the benefits of edge computing, including reduced latency and bandwidth savings. To stay competitive, solution providers need an edge computing strategy if they do not have one already. 

Platform & software vendors:

—Should implement data security and sovereignty solutions across devices and applications. Organizations must pay particular attention to their ability to retain control over data flow and storage, e.g. for data gathered from IoT sensors and devices.

—Should create offerings that optimize certain workflows and/or mitigate specific challenges. While enterprises and solution providers are adept at integrating and deploying the various components, broadscale adoption will be accelerated through targeted platform innovations that simplify critical processes and resolve deployment challenges out of the box.

Perhaps the most important finding from this survey is in the confirmation that open source is key to the continued adoption of IoT and edge technologies. Successful open source requires a diverse and vibrant community, along with the structure and strategies to enable innovation.