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Progress Continues on Industrial Open Source Software

With demand for interoperability in the industrial software and hardware space continuing to grow, the Eclipse Foundation releases a report on the status of the organization’s work in several areas affecting industrial technology.

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The Eclipse Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit corporation created to foster a vendor-neutral approach to open source innovation in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) space, has released its 2020 annual community report. The report charts developments within the organization itself as well as broader industry trends relating to open source software and automation as a whole.

The shift away from proprietary technology and toward multi-vendor interoperability comes partially in response to the increasing complexity of software applications. Whereas it once took thousands of labor hours to write the code for a software product line-by-line, doing so today is considered excessively costly and time consuming. This move has been enabled by large, online libraries of pre-existing code, which have helped lower the barrier to entry for developers.

The Eclipse Foundation foresees the open source ecosystem continuing to expand as companies become more software-centric, noting that “digitalization is the single biggest industry trend in the world today. Companies in every sector are realizing the economic value that’s unlocked by software innovations that enable digital capabilities and business models. Companies are investing in open source strategies even as the world is experiencing major economic turmoil because they realize it’s the only way to keep pace with global innovation and thrive.”

The report observes that many companies, which would have traditionally been end-users of software technologies, are increasingly seeking to influence its development. As an example, Chevron’s involvement in the Eclipse Foundation’s Sparkplug Working Group is cited. The Sparkplug working group was developed in 2020 to develop software capable of enabling applications, sensors, devices, and gateways to standardize data within an MQTT communications infrastructure.

Developments within the Eclipse Foundation highlighted in the report include the addition of three new working groups: Tangle EE, which is focused on distributed ledger technology—well-known as the technology used for Blockchain; Eclipse Cloud Development Tools, which seeks to provide open source implementations of standards, services, and frameworks that enable development for and in the cloud; and the aforementioned Eclipse Sparkplug.

Moreover, 29 new members have joined the Eclipse Foundation as part of its participation in the OpenHardware Group, a new open source, not-for-profit organization dedicated to facilitating collaboration among hardware and software designers around open source compatibility.

The Eclipse Foundation also announced it will be moving its center of operations to Brussels in the coming year in an attempt to adopt a more international posture.

The full Eclipse Foundation 2020 annual community report can be viewed here.

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