Getting go with FIWARE

FIWARE is a roughly 400 Million EURO EU-funded project to kick off an European cloud infrastructure and ecosystem. Wait, 400 Million Euros? That raised legit questions in me how my tax money is used, what is available and what not, what works and what is more shiny rather than useful.

I have a firm interest in Open Data and given my technical background, from time to time, I seek technical challenges. As Austria released their address data (including ZIP codes) as public sector information this kicked-off my challenge to import these data sets into a public cloud, to inspect them, and think about use cases.

Warming up

The starting point for my endeavor was https://www.fiware.org/. From the start page it doesn’t become immediately clear what FIWARE is and what not. FIWARE is certainly more but a technical infrastructure, and provides accelerator programs and many domain specific programs. Their interrelation is, at best, not immediately obvious.

The technical foundations by FIWARE are provided by the Lab. Diving into the details already requires a login. However, after registration you can hardly kick off with any development, as the default role is Basic, which gives you no computing resources. The upgrade request can be directly filed from your FIWARE account page and is (still) free.

You need to describe in some detail what you plan to do with the requested resources, state the Node, whose resources shall be used, and you also have to think about the sizing of your application. As I had no idea what Node to pick, I decided to chose a physically near location.

Unravel the Confusion

What next? The Cloud management entry site is overwhelming and confusing at the same time. While the Store tab sounds compelling, I was astonished to find nothing useful for my requirements: No basic storage facility (no SQL Database like MySQL or my preferred Postgres, no in-memory database) or programming environment. Store is a marketplace and has little to nothing to do with storage, so move on.

fiware-start

The technical FIWARE foundation is not much more but a distributed Openstack implementation, which is good, as plenty of documentation is available. After some basic knowledge and having grasped the concepts of blueprints, instances, security et al., the FIWARE cloud management cockpit makes much more sense:

cloudmenu

While “Blueprint templates” sound compelling, I was not able to discover anything useful for my purpose to import some basis data into storage and build a web app on top.

 

This is  the  major gripe I currently have with the FIWARE technical infrastructure. It feels like a thrown-together mischmasch of strategic components of the individual FIWARE consortium members without much overarching concept.  Which means, there are some very basic components available like authentication and authorization as well as very domain specific solutions like WebTundra, a Web client for taking realXtend 3D virtual worlds into modern web browsers. What is terribly missing though, either as a general enabler or prominently documented, are mid-tier services like storage capabilities.

Thankfully I discovered the Docker General Enabler and decided to give that cloud infrastructure and virtualization solution a spin.

The next post will describe how to use Docker to set up a virtual machine on FIWARE.

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