IBM Open-Sources Quarks IoT Service to Its Own Gain

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2016-02-19 Print this article Print
Internet of Things

Quarks is a micro-kernel style runtime for execution enabling analytics on small-footprint edge devices or sensors, such as Raspberry Pi devices or smart phones. It has Java APIs for developing applications that execute analytics using a per-event streaming paradigm. It also features connectors for MQTT, HTTP, JDBC, Apache Kafka and the IBM Watson IoT Platform. And it features multi-platform support including Java 8, Java 7 and Android. Producing a stream that contains a phone’s sensor events is an example of Android-specific functionality, IBM said.

“Given the diverse nature of edge devices, local analytics is best addressed by an open community of software experts and device experts committed to expanding the capabilities and real-world use of Quarks,” IBM said.

IBM is encouraging the community to get involved in expanding the capabilities of Quarks.

IBM's decision to donate its Quarks technologies to open source is the latest in a long line of open source investments by the company, including Eclipse and its Power processor architecture,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. IBM hopes the platform will gain momentum via the contributions of energetic open source developers. But the company also stands to gain if Quarks achieves a level of market momentum that eventually enables IBM to build commercial offerings around it.

Indeed, King said he believes there is a very good chance of Quarks doing just that.

“As IoT has evolved, a strong consensus has emerged around the need to develop solutions that support ‘intelligence’ -- in the form of compute/analysis capabilities -- at the edge of the network in endpoint and gateway devices, he said. “Doing so would allow those solutions to initially determine relevant data which could then be transmitted back to central data centers for closer analysis, thus saving time and communications costs. Quarks is a toolset designed to do just that and if it catches on, IBM could be in the catbird's seat in terms of Quarks expertise and service development.”

Long time IBM watcher and founder of the Enderle Group, Rob Enderle sees possibly an even bigger role for Quarks.

“Quarks is their streaming platform for processing lots of data at once and IoT has ‘lots of data at once’ as one of its big requirements,” Enderle said. “In addition, the one huge sustaining advantage of their System z architecture is massive I/O giving them a potential significant competitive advantage with IoT if it uses an architecture that System z can best use.  Quarks is that platform and, if successful, it could create a significant advantage for System z hardware for large scale IoT deployments.”



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