James Governor's Monkchips

Cloud Native at the edge

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The Cloud Native stack is not necessarily something you expect to see used in edge computing, but I have noticed a couple of interesting use cases recently.

The first is Ocado – the online grocer. I know, I know, I keep writing about the firm, but it’s inarguably making interesting use of technology. Ocado is creating a vertically integrated technology stack for warehousing and distribution, including some very cool custom robots. I wrote this story up recently because I was interested in the use of New Relic for monitoring cranes in its warehouses. What I hadn’t realised though, was that the warehouses are also running Kubernetes on premises – with software Ocado has open sourced called Kubermesh “Bare metal, self-hosted, self-healing/provisioning, mesh network kubernetes cluster”. Networking services are provided by Weave Net, another Cloud Native connection – Weaveworks was founded by Alexis Richardson, who also runs the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s Technical Oversight Committee. It’s early days, but when Kubernetes was created the intended use case definitely wasn’t on prem warehouse management software. It’s a mark of community momentum, open source flexibility, and interest its finding use cases like this.

Also in TIL, Deutsche Bahn is going to be using Prometheus (monitoring and time series database) with Grafana dashboards in its signage systems at every train station in Germany.

Luke Marsden from Weaveworks kindly provided another great example from the recent Kubecon. Apparently Comcast plans to use Kubernetes in the local management pods for its cable network across more than 1000 locations. Comcast is moving to a request response IP-based network rather than the wasteful traditional always on transmission of all channels to all customers model, and was attracted to K8s because of fault tolerance and because it was explicitly designed for distributed computing. K8s will allow Comcast to make far more efficient use of its network. Here is Eric Saint Martin talking about Comcast’s new Kubernetes-based architecture.

Sam Newman gave me another case- DBA Dark Cubed, which delivers its security software as a Kubernetes appliance. Not exactly “edge” at a glance, but centrally managed, locally deployed.

Another solid edge example is Resin.io, which uses Docker as the basis for a software deployment and management mechanism for IoT devices, embedded and industrial. While it might seem heavyweight to run Linux and docker on end points, our edge computing form factors are currently thickening, as we increasingly realised local compute and storage is required to keep pressure off networks.

Amazon Web Services is moving forward with Greengrass, for embedded local compute, messaging and caching, extending its serverless platform to edge devices. Microsoft is now talking about a new model – Intelligent Cloud with Intelligent Edge.

But for now I really wanted to note the Kubernetes and Prometheus examples, rather than writing a magnum opus on the growth of new edge technologies . Please let me know if you have any more.


AWS and Microsoft are clients. Weaveworks is in my coworking space.


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