The open source cloud community is being urged to pull together and overcome the barriers preventing widespread adoption of edge computing practices becoming a reality.
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In a recently published OpenStack Foundation whitepaper, entitled Cloud edge computing: Beyond the datacentre, the case is made for creating a cross-industry coalition to oversee the creation of tools and standards needed to support the broad adoption of edge computing in future.
This is because edge computing environments have particular characteristics and requirements that cannot be met by using the same tools and strategies traditionally used to create centralised datacentres, the paper states.
“[An] edge computing platform has to be, by design, much more fault tolerant and robust than a traditional datacentre-centric cloud, both in terms of the hardware as well as the platform services that support the application lifecycle,” the paper reads.
“We cannot assume that such edge use cases will have the maintenance and support facilities that standard datacentre infrastructure does. Zero touch provisioning, automation and autonomous orchestration in all infrastructure and platform stacks are crucial requirements in these scenarios.”
There are also some other “edge-specific” characteristics that can be achieved through the use of existing technologies. But, in some instances, deeper research and investment may be needed to address and deliver them.
“The challenge is to revise (and extend when needed) infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) core services in order to deal with aforementioned edge specifics, [such as] network disconnections/bandwidth, limited capacities in terms of compute and storage, unmanned deployments, and so forth,” the paper states.
“The OpenStack Foundation Edge Computing Group is asking the open source community to begin exploring these challenges and possibilities. We recognise that there is work to be done to achieve our goals of creating the tools to meet these new requirements. We welcome and encourage the entire open source community to join in the opportunity to define and develop cloud edge computing.”
The paper is co-authored by a dozen open source leaders from a mix of supplier and user organisations, including Red Hat, AT&T and Walmart Labs.
“There is much work to be done to achieve our goals, and we welcome and encourage the entire open source community to join in both the effort and the opportunity of creating or adapting tools to meet the new requirements of cloud edge computing,” the paper continues.
At the Sydney OpenStack Summit in November 2017, OpenStack Foundation executive director Jonathan Bryce flagged edge computing as a “surprise” emerging use case for its open source cloud platform, as demand for smaller data processing hubs sited closer to users and their endpoint devices grows.
This trend, in turn, is being fuelled by the growth of the internet of things (IoT), autonomous vehicles and augmented reality technologies, which rely on low-latency connections for users to get the most out of them.
The growing demand for these types of workloads has served to highlight the limitations of relying solely on large, centralised datacentres to meet the latency requirements needs of the growing number of internet-connected devices in use across the world, the whitepaper states.
“New applications, services and workloads increasingly demand a different kind of architecture – one that’s built to directly support a distributed infrastructure,” it continues.
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