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Eclipse Launches New Kubernetes Working Group for IOT, Edge Computing

The Eclipse Foundation is joining forces with the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) to form a new Eclipse working group focused on improving Kubernetes IoT and edge deployments, the two organizations recently announced. The Kubernetes IoT Edge Working Group will address "surging demand" for Kubernetes in IoT cloud and edge environments, they said.

The working group is also supported by several industry heavy hitters who are betting big on Kubernetes, including Red Hat, Bosch, Eurotech, InfluxData, Siemens, Vapor IO, and VMware.

But it's actually more accurate to say that the new working group is a collaboration among the 40-member Eclipse IoT Working Group and the Kubernetes community, explained the Eclipse Foundation's Executive Director, Mike Milinkovich.

"We saw that there were highly complementary technologies being worked on by our two groups," Milinkovich told me. "It just made sense to pull the members together, so they could collaborate on defining the terminology, identifying the gaps in deployment and management, put standard metrics in place, identify open source projects that could help, and just generally educate the market on common use cases and typical scenarios for IoT solutions."

The complexity of orchestrating IoT systems is a problem domain for which Kubernetes is a perfect fit, Milinkovich added.

"Companies with commercial interests in IoT are facing a common set of infrastructure challenges at the edge," said Dejan Bosanac, Red Hat engineer and lead of the new working group, in a statement. "IoT and edge applications have many distributed components that don't usually sit together within the same datacenter infrastructure. There are messaging challenges, security has to be re-invented for every application and service, and there are integration and data locality issues with sidecar services. These are issues that shouldn't have to be re-invented every time; they should be open source infrastructure with broad industry support."

Red Hat sees "broad potential" for Kubernetes sitting between gateways, edge nodes, and cloud platforms, said Bosanac. "Much like the LAMP stack was instrumental to the client-server era, this group is focused on accelerating a Kubernetes stack for running cloud infrastructure and distributed components at the IoT edge," he said.

To get everybody's favorite container orchestration platform IoT-and-edge-ready, the working group will focus first on evolving Kubernetes to support IoT workloads at the edge (a $2.1 trillion market by 2021, according to IDC), and defining key use cases and requirements, Milinkovich said. Several areas that need improvement have already been identified. If Kubernetes is going to work in Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications, for example, the ingress layer must scale to millions of connections. That same layer must provide first-class support for IIoT messaging protocols. And Kubernetes must support multi-tenancy for environments where devices and gateways are shared.

"As you're building out IoT use cases, and in particular Industrial IoT use cases, you pretty quickly get into extremely large-scale scenarios -- millions of devices, hundreds of thousands of IoT gateways, and the scale of the data is enormous," Milinkovich said. "Ultimately, you need to get that data into a cloud infrastructure, so it can be dealt with at cloud scale and connected to the business processes."

Milinkovich also wrote about the new working group in a blog post, which I recommend. Here's a quote from the blog:

"Enterprises are being catapulted into system resource engineering concepts that have been the bedrock of operations at web-scale leaders like Google and Netflix, and the open source stack underneath it all is evolving so fast it's hard to keep up. Kubernetes is attracting all sorts of exciting frameworks and services (see projects like Istio and Envoy), and no one could have anticipated it having this degree of momentum."

The CNCF, which is part of The Linux Foundation, hosts some of the key components of cloud native software stacks, including Kubernetes and the Prometheus systems and service monitoring system.

Posted by John K. Waters on September 26, 2018