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2021-04-10

IoT North April 2021 / Report & Video

The business model of information technology companies is reliant on continuous innovation and the fast rollout of new products. Against the high rate of industry growth, the seamless collaboration of the development (Dev) and operations (Ops) teams is important to facilitate the development of new products and simplify the maintenance of existing deployments. The amalgamation of Dev and Ops teams – DevOps – is a set of practices that combines software development stages, such as planning, creating, verifying and packaging, and IT operations processes relating to release, configuration and monitoring. DevOps aims to shorten the systems development life cycle and provide continuous delivery with high software quality. The streamlining of development and operation processes helps reduce software rollout in markets, accelerate innovation, increase efficiency, adapt to competition, improve system reliability and achieve higher customer satisfaction.

To explore the integration of DevOps practices into IoT Workflows, the April IoT North featured a presentation from Peter Gallagher (www.petecodes.co.uk). Peter is an IS Consultant, Microsoft Certified Trainer, Azure MVP, Pluralsight Authors, a Public Speaker, STEM Ambassador, a Meetup and Code Club Organiser. He specialises in programming IoT and business applications, mostly using C#, VB.Net, Javascript and PHP languages. During his presentation, Peter went through the processes of setting up a simple IoT application, creating an Azure IoT Edge solution, and showed an open source DevOps pipeline in Jenkins and Docker Hub. The webinar was co-hosted, as usual, by Pitch-In Project and sponsored by Newcastle University and https://www.goto50.ai.

To set up the IoT App, an IoT device is connected to the Azure IoT Hub to provide data to the hub. Azure IoT Hub is a cloud solution enabling the connection of any device virtually. To read, process and visualise the data sent from the programmed IoT device, the Web IoT App should be running locally. Adding the DevOps pattern into the IoT workflow can be done in several ways. The first is to configure the device or the Web App in Azure with GitHub. GitHub is an open-source platform for version control and collaboration. It enables users and developers to manage the coding on the device, continuous integration, deployment and automation of the entire DevOps pipeline. Another way to manage the CI workflow consists of three steps, whereby a code is delivered to the device from GitHub through Jenkins and Docker Hub. Jenkins is a free open-source server, enabling the automation of the non-human part of the software development process. Docker is a set of platform-as-a-service products delivering software in isolated containers (the bundle of software, libraries and configuration files) that can be deployed to the machine from Docker Hub. Docker Hub is a way to host docker containers in the cloud. The third way is to create an Azure IoT Edge solution. Azure IoT Edge is a service built on Azure IoT Hub. It gives the ability to manage IoT solutions integrating Microsoft Azure cloud services with edge computer hardware and software. Microsoft Azure IoT Edge consists of IoT Edge Runtime installed on a device and utilising different modules (e.g. Telemetry, Azure function). Such an approach makes it possible to process massive data on the edge before sending it to the cloud. Also, the Azure DevOps software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform can be used, offering a range of tools for the development and deployment of software, such as Azure Boards (agile planning, tracking, visualisation and reporting), Azure Pipelines (CI/CD platform), Azure Repos (private git repos), Azure Artifacts (integrated package management) and Azure Test Plans (testing solution). The platform can also be used to orchestrate third-party tools.

Industry News

March has been rich in new project investment and massive recruitment in manufacturing industries. The major news of the past month about technology manufacturing and recruitment is the launch of the building of engines for transit custom in Dagenham, securing hundreds of jobs, the development of the largest world aero-engine at a Derby plant by Rolls Royce, the creation of 450 new jobs at JCB, the opening of an automotive R&D centre in Warwickshire, the building of a huge offshore wind plant by GE hiring 750 employees accordingly, and the opening of a new watchmaking manufacturing and technology centre. Also, there were announcements about a £100-milion investment by British Steel to improve manufacturing and environmental performance and a £50-million investment into a new plant at the Northwich site by Tata Chemicals Europe. For more news and the latest updates in the sector, follow Mark Weymouth’s Friday blog on Linkedin.