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By | May 10, 2024May 14th, 2024

Leaders in LF Edge: Interview with Sujata Tibrewala

According to IDC, investments in edge computing are expected to reach $232 billion in 2024, with a projected value approaching $350 billion by 2027. This surge reflects the increasing need to process data closer to where it’s generated. The growth of edge computing presents a significant revenue opportunity for technology and telecom industries. As its evolution continues, effective leadership will be crucial to guide the edge computing industry’s future and maximize its potential.

Today we sat down with Sujata Tibrewala, Open Source Advocate and Market Operation Manager at ByteDance. Sujata tells us how she got involved in the edge computing industry and why leaders must plan for the growth of IoT and edge.

How did you get involved in the LF Edge community and what is your role now?

My foray into open source started back in 2016, when I joined as a Developer community manager and Networking evangelist at Intel. This also happened to be the time when Edge and 5G was gaining traction in the community and like everyone else I started looking at these technologies as well. As I learned more, I got inspired to learn and contribute more, since these technologies had the power of creating a level playing field for Tech developers who wanted to create products as well as consumers who were traditionally left out of the digital economy due to the Digital divide (read this Forbes article on how it is worsening wage and opportunity gap).  

I was already working with LF networking through multiple OSS projects such as DPDK,, OVS, ONAP, etc, hence when the Akraino community was formed under LF Edge,  it was natural for me to get involved, and I started contributing as Documentation Chair. In that position, I worked to streamline the Akraino blueprint approval process which followed “say it, do it philosophy”, where each blueprint decided what documentation they needed and then went ahead and developed it. The review team made sure they followed their own guidelines and that worked really well giving the diverse Blueprints under the Akraino Umbrella freedom to define their processes, while also benefiting from the oversight and help the review committee could give them. 

Today I am an elected member of the LF Edge governing board as a representative of Bytedance. I am excited to be here as I want to work on how we can increase our participation in the open source community, using the influence and reach of the Linux Foundation. 

What is your vision for the edge computing industry? 

As I mentioned earlier, edge computing has the power of creating a level playing field for small Tech developers enabling them to create products for markets where traditional big providers do not venture due to limited volumes. I would hence like to see more and more local players come into this market and serve the needs of local communities, thereby opening up opportunities for them. There are already some government/private public partnerships in this area see this FCC report and XGain project from EU which fosters a sustainable, balanced, and inclusive development of rural, coastal and urban areas, by facilitating access of relevant stakeholders (such as municipalities, policymakers, farmers, foresters and their associations) to a comprehensive inventory of smart XG, last-mile connectivity and edge computing solutions, and of related assessment methods. 

Also with the proliferation of voluminous data being generated, it is logical to process it at or close to where it is created, reducing the costs and energy consumption in moving it to central clouds. Processing data on site/at edge also addresses data privacy and security concerns. 

Both the points above mean, edge needs to be ubiquitous, and that means it needs to be lightweight, efficient and green. This is unlike a traditional centralized data center which usually has massive power and cooling needs, which only seems to get worse with increased computing demands for AI training and inference. 

I would also want to see more and more adaptations of AI training models to function at the edge, vs in the cloud to be able to support latency demands of mission-critical applications while naturally reducing power demands, making these applications more sustainable. 

What impact do you see open source playing in the evolution of the edge market? And how has it shaped where we are today?

Open Source is a critical part of making the technology making the edge more accessible to all players, while also making sure it works in a standardized way while meeting the varied and competing requirements. 

With mammoth compute demands of AI, energy efficiency and resource conservation are no longer “just” a sustainability goal, but a critical need that can make or break the possibility of these applications being able to function at the edge. This demands a pace of innovation like never before, and since “99% of talent is always outside of any single organization” open source is critical to make this happen tapping into the collective brain power of the community.

This is where the role of Open Source comes in. Edge today is sitting on the power of open source. Whether it is software at all levels of protocol stack complying with MEC (Muti-Access Edge computing Specification) that form an integral part of the current Edge deployments such as EdgeX foundry, Akraino Blueprints or container ecosystem born out of major open source software originally intended for public cloud e.g. K8S, Docker etc, Edge wouldn’t be where it is today.

Why is LF Edge important to advance the future of edge computing?

LF is the leader and a trusted name in the open source community, hence serves as a neutral playground for Industry and communities to collaborate and work with each other. It is important that LF continues to act as a home to all players who want to develop edge solutions or adopt them for their use cases. I am aware of the efforts LF is putting in to make all its projects more inclusive in terms of race, gender and geography, in terms of giving a platform to developers across the world to contribute, learn and use its open source projects, and I hope that it would continue to do so. Being inclusive and making sure developers no matter where they come from have a seat at the table is important to the development of Edge that is rooted in user’s needs and hence more likely to be adopted to make a real difference.

What is ByteDance’s role in edge computing and LF Edge?

Bytedance and its employees have been contributing to various LF Edge initiatives such as AI/ML and AR/VR Edge applications, Open Mined Pipeline Data Privacy(DP), IEC Type 4: AR/VR oriented Edge Stack for Integrated Edge Cloud (IEC) Blueprint Family – Akraino – A

And Security as an Edge Service – Akraino CI/CD Blueprint. We are also using some of LF Edge open source projects such as EdgeX Foundry etc, for example, Volcano Engine Edge intelligence implements device access services by introducing and extending the capabilities of EdgeX. We have a history of open sourcing different projects as open source to help developers across the world facing similar challenges. With our membership with LF Edge, we wish to increase our involvement in open source by contributing more to open source projects and contributing new ones as needed.

What advice do you give to organizations who want to get involved in the LF Edge community?

My advice would be similar to what I would give anyone working in Open Source. Get involved with the Edge community if it really solves your problem because otherwise it will not last long term. Also once you are here, be a good open source citizen, contribute back whatever modifications and feature additions you do on top of the open source project you are using. Don’t be afraid of taking on responsibilities where you see there is a gap and “chop wood carry water”, the not so “shiny” aspects of Open source contributions.  Also be mindful of feedback and inputs from others in the community and respect all voices. Lastly, edge is an ever evolving field so bring your best foot forward, the world needs innovation like never before.