With EdgeX Foundry just reaching v1.1, we continue to provide ObjectBox as an embedded high-performance database backend so you can start using ObjectBox EdgeX v1.1 right away. If you need data reliability and high-speed database operations, ObjectBox is for you. Additionally, starting with ObjectBox EdgeX 1.1, you can use it on 32-bit ARM devices.
Combining the speed and size advantages of ObjectBox on the EdgeX platform, we empower companies to analyze more data locally on the machine, enabling new use cases.
With ObjectBox-backed EdgeX we’re bringing the efficiency, performance and small footprint of the ObjectBox database to all EdgeX applications. It is fully compatible, so you can use it as a drop-in replacement: you call against the same REST and Go EdgeX APIs. As simple as that;no need to change any code.
Performance comparison of EdgeX database backends
EdgeX Foundry comes with a choice of two database engines: MongoDB and Redis. ObjectBox EdgeX brings an alternative to Redis and MongoDB to the table. Because ObjectBox is an embedded database, optimized for high speed and ease of use while also delivering data reliability, it enables a new set of use cases. As we all know, benchmarks are hard to do. This is why all our benchmarks are open source and we invite you to check them out for yourself. To give you a quick impression of how you could benefit from using ObjectBox, let’s have a look at how each compares in basic database operations on “Device Readings”, one of the most performance intensive data points.
Note: The Read and Write operations (all CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations are measured in objects / second). The benchmarks test internal EdgeX database layer performance, not the REST APIs throughput.
These benchmarks provide a good perspective why you should consider ObjectBox with EdgeX. Benchmark sources are available publicly in ObjectBox EdgeX github repo.
So, why is ObjectBox EdgeX faster?
First of all, you are probably aware of the phrase “Lies, damned lies, and statistics benchmarks”. Of course, you should look at performance for yourself and consider based on your specific use case needs. That’s why we make our benchmarks available as open source. It is a good starting point.
To make it easier to compare ObjectBox (in addition to our open source benchmarks) here are some of the high-level “unfair advantages” that make ObjectBox fast:
Objects: As you can derive from its name, ObjectBox is all about for objects. It’s highly optimized for persisting objects. The EdgeX architecture and Go sources are a great fit here as it puts Go’s objects (structs) in the center of its interface. This means, we can omit costly transformations and this helps with speed.
Embedded database: Redis and MongoDB are client/server databases running in separate processes. ObjectBox, however, is running in the same process as EdgeX itself (each EdgeX microservice, to be precise). This has definite efficiency advantages, but it also comes with some restrictions: Whereas you can put Redis/MongoDB in separate Dockers or machines, this option is not available for ObjectBox yet.
Transaction merging: ObjectBox can execute individual write operations in a common database transaction. This means, we can reduce the costly transactions for a number of write operations. This is a great way to add on performance, delaying the transaction end by single digit milliseconds.
Get started with ObjectBox EdgeX
The simplest way to get started is to fetch the latest docker-compose.yml and start the containers:
wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/objectbox/edgex-objectbox/fuji/bin/docker-compose.ymldocker-compose up -d
You can check the status of your running services by going to http://localhost:8500/. At this point, you have the REST services running at their respective ports, available to access from your EdgeX applications.
If you’re new to EdgeX, find out all about the open source IoT Edge Platform here. The EdgeX project is led by the Linux Foundation and supported by many industry players, including Dell, IBM, and Fujitsu.
In this case study, we talked with easyGOband CTO Christian Bongart about their implementation of ObjectBox in a cashless payment and access control solution, which spans across devices from Android to Raspberry Pi.
Alyssa – Hi Christian, thanks for joining me. Can you quickly introduce yourself and easyGOband?
Christian – Hi Alyssa, thanks. I am the co-founder of easyGOband and the CTO. We founded easyGOband back in 2017 as a product for music festivals. We introduced RFID wristbands as an access control system and as a payment solution for music festivals, since they have issues with connectivity.
Normally festivals only accept cash or they have a plastic token system. easyGOband, is a cashless system where you link your entry ticket over web application with your barcode. You can prepay your Near-Field Communication (NFC) wristband with lets say €20, for example. We activate and validate your ticket through the access control, and we hand you over the activated NFC wristband which would then contain the €20. Each seller then has an android device, which is like a small POS device, where you can enter the products you want to charge and the balance gets removed from the wrist band.
A – So, tell me a bit more about where the data sits.
C – The actual data is all stored in the wrist band and on the POS device. So it works in low connectivity environment because music festivals the massification of all the people together adds connectivity issues. Antennas can’t make it. Wifi is also a problem because of interference with audio devices, microphone and stuff like this – it is very hard to have a good connectivity. Other music festivals have invested online solutions with WiFi and they always have big problems with it because music festivals have 60,000 – 70,000 attendants and then the whole payment system goes down – it’s a catastrophe. That many people – no beer, that’s not good at a music event. And that’s how our company was initially born. We have been working in music festivals all over the world, in small music festivals, in bigger music festivals, in Argentina and Mexico, in Ecuador, and in Spain mostly.
A – Are music festivals still your primary target group?
C – Well, we noticed that this music festival business is not the best business we could pick up because it is very hard. Every year, you have to rearrange the agreement with the music festivals. It is quite hard for them to pay and then we noticed that our product could be well suited as well for hotels and resorts. And then we started to work with some large hotel customers, for example, in Spain we worked with Globalia which is the owner of Air Europa. Or Grupo Piñero, and in Cancun working with hotel chain called Oasis and now we are quite far into the hotel business and it’s working quite well.
A – Okay, that makes sense, hotels are a big market. So, tell me a bit about how you use ObjectBox, what does our solution solve for easyGOband?
C – The thing is, the low connectivity environment for us plays a pretty important role in our product. And that means we have to store a lot of data locally on the devices. For example, when the device makes a transaction, it tries to make the notification through the application server but if it can’t notify it then it just stores the data locally and tries again afterwards. For example, all transactions that are made during the event or hotel will store it locally on every single device so that device – as long as it has any connectivity during the operation even if the connectivity breaks at a single moment – can still see all the data: which transaction has been made, what’s the balance, what room is this wristband related to, what access group has it. We combine the data that we synchronize with the application server with ObjectBox, and the data that we can get real time with the NFC wristbands, we can operate 100% even if we are out of connectivity.
We first started with just SQLite. The thing is, we have to work on different devices. We have to work on Android devices, on Linux devices, we have to work on Windows PC and other devices. Something happened in the Android versions I think with the JDBC driver for SQLite and then we needed two different implementations. One with the native SQLite driver from Android and one with just the JDBC driver. That wasn’t ideal for us, more maintenance. After that we tried H2 but there were some issues with corrupting the DBs and stuff like this. And then I found ObjectBox and we give it a try and it worked quite well. And we are now using ObjectBox on all our devices – Windows PC, Linux PC, we are even using Raspberry Pi.
We have to work on different devices. We have to work on Android devices, on Linux devices, we have to work on Windows PC and other devices.
A – Very cool. What’s the use case for the Raspberry Pi?
C – We have a system where we integrate with gatekeeper devices, like automatic doors, and we have one single Raspberry Pi for each gatekeeper. You scan the wrist band, the Raspberry Pi makes the connection with the gatekeeper and opens the door, for example. Or in general we use it for access control system for example, camping or resorts where you have access to the gym, it’s an electro magnetic door and we connect the Raspberry Pi to it and with a relay to open the door for it. And the Raspberry Pi is perfect for this. The newer Raspberry Pis run java based applications very well. Even with a user interface, we found it works well. ObjectBox is just perfect for us, since we can use it on all the different devices, one single implementation for all the repositories. For us, it’s perfect.
A – I believe it. So, in terms of implementation, was it fairly easy to do so across the different devices, were there any challenges?
C – It was quite easy. There was some smaller workarounds. For example we had to stick to number IDs, but the IDs on our system are UIDs. Because data is generated on the devices, we have to use UIDs, we cannot just use a non-sequential ID for this. Just some smaller workarounds – I think you are already working on different solutions that would fix our minor issues. Performance is very good. Implementation was done by one week or so, so yeah, it was quite good.
A – What are some big picture goals for your company, in terms of your road map, product road map?
C – Our next goal is a whole new product for hotels. Because, when we started doing business with hotels and we began seeing what our customers need. Now we have learned enough so we can do a single product for our hotel customers. We are going to do a web page and connect to peripherals over websockets. This means, for example, you as an operator in a hotel, as a receptionist, you login to your web panel, and there’s a button that says, let’s say – “Activate RFID Wristband” and we can connect to the device and execute the order that was initiated by the receptionist. The peripherals in Android devices, and in general would all be using ObjectBox to sync and store on the later.
ObjectBox is just perfect for us, since we can use it on all the different devices, one single implementation for all the repositories.
A – Great that you are able to solve a specific customer pain point. What are you using as a synchronization solution, is that built in house?
C – Yes, yes. On the app server, we use MySQL, I think Aurora Serverless from Amazon and we use JOOQ, a query builder on top of it to build our queries and stuff like this, and then we have an SDK on the client size which uses ObjectBox to store the data on the device.
A – Okay, that’s interesting. Maybe, if you’re familiar or not, we have a synchronization solution for ObjectBox as well.
C – Yes, I’ve been looking into it. Looks good, we will definitely try it out when it’s released. We generate data on different devices and all devices need to sync data that is generated by all the other different devices.
A – So, did you look at ObjectBox because of performance at all?
C – Not really, we were mostly having issues in terms of compatibility. That was the main reason we switched from SQLite or H2 to ObjectBox. It wasn’t only performance related. For example, with SQLite, the performance we were getting was okay. Because the data was stored on every single device, it’s not that much data volume that you have. For example, even at the largest music festival, maybe the biggest we make 1000 or 2000 transactions in minutes or at most. We don’t generate that much data. It was much more relevant with the different compatibility, on the different devices, and that code-base was usable on the most devices possible. That was very important for us. Obviously performance is also important – but it’s not the most important thing for us.
A – Sure, so performance wasn’t necessarily a driver there. Anything else you would like to share about using ObjectBox?
C – You solved a lot of issues that we were facing. And the thing is, we are very happy that every time we have an issue, for example, we found an issue that we couldn’t use it on 32-bit windows devices, that was also almost a year ago, it was fixed within just a few weeks and that is very nice. We have never found such a good and quick response from 3rd party and free solution. Later on we had the issue with the Raspberry Pi where we couldn’t use it because of some issue with your continuous integration – also it was solved by you. That was amazing, I don’t know how to thank you.
A – That’s great to hear. Our community is extremely important to us, it’s a large part of why we’re building ObjectBox. Thank you for sharing your case study, it will be nice to be able to give other users an idea of how ObjectBox can be implememented in so many different applications.
The biggest challenge railway providers face today is digitization to increase operational efficiency. Issues like unscheduled downtimes or track repairs are very costly and have a strong impact on customer satisfaction. On top, railway providers constantly need to work on ensuring and improving passenger security. The problem behind these issues is that railway operators are often still lacking data when it comes to knowing what is happening on the tracks, in the tunnels and trains.
This case study looks at how Kapsch and ObjectBox collaborated on a Kapsch Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) edge solution for the railway industry. The project enables railway operators to optimize their operational efficiency and asset management via rapid processing of real time mission critical data, ensuring extremely reliable asset operations and timely decision-making.
Founded in 1892, today this family-owned company headquartered in Vienna is a globally-operating technology group with offices and subsidiaries on all continents. The Kapsch Group focuses on peoples’ requirements in the fields of communication and mobility. With innovative products and solutions, Kapsch BusinessCom and Kapsch TrafficCom make a significant contribution to the digital transformation and a sustainable future in public and private transportation.
ObjectBox makes real time data consistently accessible from sensor to server – including sensors (client), Android and iOS devices, IoT gateways, on-premise and cloud servers. ObjectBox is 10 times faster than any alternative, smaller than 1 MB and uniquely designed for IoT and Mobile settings.
Kapsch and ObjectBox
Kapsch is a longtime partner of railway operators and is thus helping the industry with digitization. By integrating ObjectBox’ database and synchronization solution into the Kapsch railway offering, Kapsch can provide superior speed and data continuity to their railway customers. This means critical data is available when needed and can be interacted with in real-time. This heightens operational efficiency and passenger security, because speed matters in that environment. It also decreases networking costs significantly. Last not least, keeping data locally as much as possible increases data security.
The challenge: Having data up to date – fast, reliably, across devices
As a long-term partner of railway providers across the world, Kapsch addresses their major pain points with its new IIoT solution. Central to optimizing railway providers’ operational efficiency and security is having real-time information about tracks and trains available when needed where needed.
Project requirements at a glance:
Performance and operation on all kinds of platforms from sensor to IoT gateway to server to iOS and Android devices
Fast (near real-time) and network-connection-independent operation on all devices, meaning on the edge. Therefore, a superfast database across entities is required.
Possibility of opening the APIs for external developer projects in the future.
What we developed in the course of our digitalization initiative, was an end to end solution for IIoT, and with this we have an edge computing solution. We were looking for possible partners and one of them was ObjectBox. When we saw their synchronization methodology, we understood it was a perfect fit.
Vice President of Product Management, R&D, Delivery & Support, Kapsch
The project environment
Developed in a co-creation process with railway operators, the Kapsch IIoT-solution is uniquely tailored to the main needs and challenges of the railway industry: Passenger experience, operational efficiency and safety / security.
The Kapsch railway cross-platform solution applies mission-critical data to avoid costly downtimes and repairs, reducing maintenance times and delays. Thus, timetables can be kept more accurately up-to-date, making travelling a better experience for end users.
At the core of the solution lies the Kapsch mission-critical network. Another essential part of this solution is the storage, processing and delivery of data, so data is accessible where it is needed, when it is needed. Doing this efficiently provides a competitive edge to railway operators. Having the data needed to make decisions in real time – across any part of the railway network – improves operational management and the experience for both employees and customers.
This is where ObjectBox comes in. ObjectBox offers a fast data storage and synchronization solution that works seamlessly across devices, from sensors to mobile (iOS and Android) to server to cloud. Because of its out-of-the-box synchronization solution, it also saves time to market and costs. On top,ObjectBox’ easy APIs could easily be extended to external developers. Therefore, Kapsch decided to implement and benchmark the startup’s solution.
How did Kapsch find ObjectBox’ solution?
Sourcing new innovative approaches is like finding a needle in the haystack. That is why Kapsch runs the later stage accelerator program Factory1. Factory1 focuses on piloting startup solutions at Kapsch. In a rigorous process, Kapsch’ top management and experts from around the world assess startups and define pilot projects together with them. In the final evaluation step, the startups pitch these pilots to the Kapsch board. After going through this thorough process, ObjectBox convinced the board of their solution’s great potential and usefulness for Kapsch.
The solution: A unique hardware/software stack with out-of-the-box synchronization
While the rigorous sourcing process already ensured a good paper and personal fit, in software projects it always comes down to the nitty-gritty details of the technology stack.
Working together – from technology fit to project-setup
So the first step was to integrate the ObjectBox database for storing data, which meant replacing the persistence layer with ObjectBox. When exchanging a database (the data persistence layer) in an existing project, four cases can be distinguished:
SQL database with abstraction layer
NoSQL database with abstraction layer
SQL database without abstraction layer
NoSQL database without abstraction layer
In this project, a NoSQL database with an abstraction layer needed to be exchanged.
The second step was to synchronize data between IoT edge gateways and central servers.
Each IoT edge gateway (located along the tracks and in the trains) collects local sensor data and makes it accessible to local devices like smartphones, as well as centralized locations (e.g. on the headquarter’s servers). This setup allows high speed operations independent of the availability and quality of network connections.
This is not a simple case of “sending data one way” or “full replication”, rather a more sophisticated technology referred to as “data synchronization”. It is transactionally safe (aka ACID compliant), meaning no data is lost in transit. The network and gateway can go down any time – once everything is up again, data is safely transmitted. This data synchronization is a built-in feature of ObjectBox and therefore does not require any additional, costly software development efforts from Kapsch.
The third step was to compare ObjectBox to alternatives. Therefore, KPIs were defined and a benchmarking application was set up. The KPIs used in this evaluation were: internal project goals, ease of use, the performance of the database, the speed and efficiency of synchronization, and data consistency across devices.
Pilot project results
Together, ObjectBox and Kapsch achieved their goals and created a solution that adds a competitive edge.
“ObjectBox integration in our IIoT solution has enabled significant performances improvement … far beyond other databases. More, we’ve learn a lot on how to operate efficiently a database from the collaboration with ObjectBox team.”
Head of R&D Development - Mission Critical Communication & Industrial IoT Technologies, Kapsch
More specifically, the following goals were met in the 3 month project:
There was a successful integration of the ObjectBox database, demonstrating how fast and easy it can be implemented. Because ObjectBox is flexible and easy to use, it can help ensure that will be usable and maintainable for 10+ years.
The performance benchmarks done in the projectclearly showed that ObjectBox outperformed the alternative solution, which was based on Couchbase, with regards to speed (CRUD operations), as well as CPU and memory (RAM) usage.
Last but not least, ObjectBox Synchronization proved to be easy to implement, transferring data seamlessly and reliably between devices. Benchmarked against the existing solution, measurements showed that ObjectBox synchronized the data 61 to 94 times faster.
Please note, the benchmarks done here are project-specific. The benchmarks simply compare the internal existing Kapsch implementation, which is based on Couchbase, to the ObjectBox implementation. Thus, they should be read as project-specific results only.
Database Performance (CRUD), higher is better
ObjectBox is faster on all basic database operations within this project. This means you can process more data faster, and run more complex applications, like artificial intelligence or machine learning applications on the device – and respond to incidents faster, before it gets costly or dangerous.
CPU & Memory Usage, lower is better
All hardware comes with limited CPU and memory resources. These resources are shared between all the apps running on the device. The less CPU and memory that the data storage solution and sync uses, the more is left for other uses.
This means it is possible to:
install smaller (and often cheaper) hardware
run more applications and do more complex computing (e.g. edge AI) on the existing hardware, allowing you to capitalize on existing infrastructure.
Both are huge cost factors in the project settings.
ObjectBox’ synchronization implementation was much faster than the alternative, processing 37,629 objects in one second, as compared to the 400 synchronized by the alternative. In practice this means that in the given setup, ObjectBox supports 10 times more clients (nodes) for every server. This translates to huge cost savings on hardware as servers are expensive and only one server is now required where before 10 were needed.
Startup-Corporate Collaboration: A win-win situation
As this case study shows, it pays off for projects to evaluate solutions independent from their provider’s company maturity level.
On the journey, both companies learned and benefited from each other’s expertise. Apart from solving the concrete technological challenges, the project yielded further positive side effects. Sebastian Opitz, Head of Controlling and ObjectBox’ project mentor, gives an example: “ObjectBox helped to quickly identify a faster way forward with a new technical solution. It would have taken us much longer doing it on our own and probably only would have been discovered much later.”
From the startup perspective, the collaboration gave ObjectBox access to new departments and new markets. “Kapsch has a deep market knowledge and a lot of experience with digitization projects. This experience helped ObjectBox to reach the next level”, concludes Vivien Dollinger, ObjectBox CEO.
We’ve been optimizing ObjectBox for speed right from the beginning, making it the fastest database for edge computing around. However, the fastest library in the world is useless if its interface to your language isn’t optimized for that language’s strengths and weaknesses. The 0.8.0 release of ObjectBox for Swift gives you a nearly 70% performance boost out of the box by improving the way we integrate with Swift:
How did we Achieve this Speed-Up?
When we created ObjectBox’s Swift binding, we did not have our C API yet. So, to bridge between the C++ database core and Swift, we implemented a number of classes using Objective-C++. Objective-C++ is neat: it looks to Swift like Objective-C (so like a Swift class), but will happily call into C++ code.
Objective-C is also a very different language from Swift, and particularly generics and structs don’t have a direct equivalent in Objective-C. So when we realized that many reactive frameworks in Swift were built around structs, we decided to change gears. We rewrote a number of core Objective-C classes in the Swift binding as Swift classes on top of the C API that we now use in all our newer language bindings, eliminating a lot of Objective-C’s dynamic dispatch, and generally improving upon algorithms here and there.
The main goal was to give our users struct support and lay the groundwork for taking advantage of Swift 5.1’s upcoming UTF8 strings by eliminating use of the UTF16-based NSString. We also wanted to bring ObjectBox’s Objective-C-beholden error handling in line with Swift conventions. So we expected modest speed-ups here and there, but a speed increase this noticeable even before Swift 5.1 was a pleasant surprise, and we wanted to get these improvements into our users’ hands as quickly as possible.
Using structs with ObjectBox
One rather unique aspect of Swift compared to other languages is how Swift defines the term struct as value type and class as reference type. That makes structs incredibly handy for cases where you want to guarantee an object can never change.
Thread-safety, for instance: if you know an object is unchangeable, there is no chance of race conditions while editing. You need no locks, no copies; your threads can all safely operate on the same memory.
However, when you put an object into your ObjectBox database, put(_:)updates the object’s id property to establish the association between the database entry and your object in memory. ObjectBox can’t do that with unchangeable structs, so we needed to make a slight adjustment to ObjectBox’s usual simple put(_:) flow:
let myUser=User(id:0,name:"Kathryn Drennan",admin:true)
Missed the difference? It’s tiny: You use put(struct:) instead of the regular put(_:). put(struct:) will create a copy of the struct you gave it with the ID changed to whatever ID the object was assigned in the database (the copy is what we store in savedUser in the above example).
So, what if you want to make changes? The way you change immutable structs is to make a copy with the one thing you wanted to change set to a different value. So while you could save it to the database using put(struct:), you already made a copy of the object, and it will not change after being saved, because it already has an ID. Won’t that second copy be wasteful?
That’s why Box now also offers putImmutable(_:). If you know that your object has already been saved, and you don’t need a copy. Just call putImmutable(_:). instead of put(struct:).
// assert(myUser.id == savedUserID)
This will return the ID for your convenience, but you can always ignore it, if you do not need it.
What else has changed?
While we’re always improving things under the hood, not much should change for your existing ObjectBox code. Apart from the new ObjectBoxError enum replacing the janky old Objective-C-style OBXError... classes, your existing code should just compile. All the changes are in the generated code.
As of today, you’ll be able to start using ObjectBox from the comfort of Python.
Whether you’re building an IoT solution, a desktop utility or a webservice, you’ll find the ObjectBox database handy to help you with data persistence on the edge. Among other features, ObjectBox provides implicit ACID transactions so there’s one less thing you have to worry about.
Let’s take a look at an example to see how ObjectBox lets you work with your data using Python:
Aside from x64 CPUs, ObjectBox supports ARMv6 and ARMv7, allowing you to benefit from a super-fast and scalable database on IoT devices, for example, the Raspberry Pi family (from the minimalistic Pi Zero to the high-spec Pi 3B+). You can also target desktop and server apps running on Linux, MacOS, or Windows using Python.
ObjectBox Python: How to get started
While this is still an early release in Python, it’s based on the proven ObjectBox core so you can already start building your applications today. Just install using