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ZEDEDA Launches Managed Kubernetes for the Distributed Edge

ZEDEDA, a San Jose-based developer and provider of edge computing virtualization software, announced during KubeCon NA 2023 a managed Kubernetes solution for the edge. The service is based on a partnership with SUSE. It offers a centrally-managed, turn-key User edge solution built on the open source operating system Eve and Rancher’s lightweight Kubernetes distribution K3s

Gartner predicts that by 2028, 80% of customer software running at the physical edge will be deployed in containers, increasing from 10% in 2023.* As a result, organizations will increasingly need to deploy orchestration technology to operate those containers. K3s, at half the memory footprint size of a typical Kubernetes cluster, while still being fully CNCF certified, is a tailor-made solution to help with the often resource-constrained devices found at the User Edge.

LFEdge Edge Description

Depending on who you ask, you will get many different answers on what the edge is today. Michael Maxey VP of business development at ZEDEDA, described the Edge as "gateways and servers running outside your datacenter." The ZEDEDA Edge Kubernetes Service announced can be deployed anywhere along the edge spectrum from smaller Raspberry Pi devices to large Telco edge devices; however, ZEDADA’s core focus is around compute at the User Edge.

LFEdge – an umbrella organization within the Linux Foundation which aims to establish an open, interoperable coalition of independent edge computing providers–defines the edge within the context of the Telco last mile, or the last part of a network service managed by a communications company before moving into private networks.

On one side of the last mile is what LFEdge calls the Service Provider Edge. These include edge workloads such as the Access edge, where Telco network devices run and the Regional edge, where CDN’s typically operate. On the other side of the last mile is the User Edge. The User Edge includes on-prem data centers, smart edge devices, and constrained microcontroller-based devices. The User Edge is what ZEDEDA is targeting with their managed Kubernetes offering or more specifically, server-based compute in the User Edge.

Kubernetes is complicated to set up and operate. While complexity is necessary for the platform's capabilities provided for teams, that complexity when attempting to leverage Kubernetes across hundreds or even thousands of User Edge devices presents a major challenge for platform teams. In addition to the day one issue of configuring and setting up Kubernetes, day two operational challenges with inconsistent network and latency present a significant obstacle for adoption.

According to Maxey, the ZEDEDA managed Kubernetes solution attempts to address many of these challenges of operating Kubernetes for clients. ZEDEDA offers a control plane solution where customers configure a fleet of nodes using a web console or CLI. That configuration defines what each node should look like. For example, that configuration might include an operating system, a Kubernetes cluster, and attached storage.

ZEDEDA works with several partners who preinstall the open source Eve operating system, also part of the LFEdge, on the provider’s hardware. Those devices are shipped to edge locations (places like retail stores, automotive shops, or even in some cases oil rigs). Once the devices power up, the device is provided network connectivity, and it calls home to ZEDEDA. The device sees a new configuration for the fleet it’s a member of, and that configuration is then pulled/deployed onto the device. Dual Partitioning Strategies are used to ensure that should a failure happen, the device fails back to a working version.

One use case of the ZEDEDA Managed Kubernetes Platform Maxey describes involves an automotive company with 50K edge nodes. Today’s cars require frequent firmware updates. Zedada’s Managed Kubernetes Platform is being used at these on-premise locations to allow technicians to pull and build the firmware for those updates. The system provisions a Windows VM for user interaction, a Kubernetes cluster for building the firmware, an SD-WAN for storage, and a firewall for security. The solution provides this without a technician supervising the installation.

K3s is a lightweight Kubernetes distribution created by Rancher Labs, and it is fully certified by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). K3s is production-ready, has a very small binary size, and very low resource requirements. Rancher Labs was acquired by SUSE, the developer of SUSE Linux Enterprise and the primary sponsor of the community-supported openSUSE Linux distribution project.

* Gartner Inc., Predicts 2024: Edge Computing Technologies Are Gaining Traction and Maturity, Thomas Bittman, Tony Iams, Sandeep Unni, Eric Goodness and Bob Gill, October 18, 2023. GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

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