Containerization has long been a solution for organizations looking to seamlessly run multiple isolated applications on a device at the edge, and now this deployment method is on a rapid incline. Gartner predicts that 80% of custom software running at the physical edge will be deployed in containers by 2028, a major increase from 10% in 2023.
Since its 2013 launch, the Kubernetes container orchestration platform has been enthusiastically embraced by open source developers and large organizations alike. More than 5.6 million developers are estimated to be using Kubernetes today, and a recent survey revealed that 96% of organizations are either using or evaluating Kubernetes—a substantial increase from 83% in 2020 and 78% in 2019.
While Kubernetes is universally regarded as the default solution for managing containerized applications in data center and cloud environments, Gartner acknowledges that Kubernetes at the edge will require new tools and operational processes, particularly when managing large fleets of clusters running on resource constrained hardware with minimal local support.
Deploying Kubernetes at the distributed edge has been complicated by inherent edge computing constraints, including:
- Software and infrastructure heterogeneity
- Hardware diversity
- Remote and distributed locations
- Smaller edge node footprints
- Data safety and security concerns
- Unreliable network connections
- Legacy system integration, and
- Lack of IT resources in the field
Still, the rapid growth of edge computing and widespread use of Kubernetes is undeniable. It also begs an interoperable solution that makes deploying, orchestrating, and managing Kubernetes distributions at the edge easier and more flexible for organizations with diverse needs.
Organizations in every industry need a comprehensive solution that not only remedies the challenges of Kubernetes at the edge but also delivers the successes they’ve grown accustomed to with cloud and data center operational models for container orchestration.
What should organizations look for in a Kubernetes edge solution?
The edge is a complex environment with a diverse set of requirements and skill sets that often prove costly. Edge devices can range from the small, low-power sensors used in autonomous vehicles to the powerful industrial computers used to run and monitor solar and wind farms, and they can be located in public, remote, inaccessible, insecure, and harsh environments. An edge orchestration solution primed for Kubernetes must first manage these complexities by enabling organizations to effortlessly deploy and manage Kubernetes infrastructure at the distributed edge remotely, securely, and cost-efficiently, with minimal configuration.
This solution must also enable operational technology and IT leaders to leverage their current investments in the Kubernetes ecosystem while they work to increase ROI at the edge and plan for the modernization of their current infrastructure over time.
In addition to addressing the technical and logistical challenges identified above, an edge service provider should also be able to support any Kubernetes deployment at scale, as well as the complete Kubernetes lifecycle, including runtime curation and management, to meet the unique needs of edge computing deployments.
Getting the most value from a Kubernetes edge solution
Kubernetes will continue to play a critical role as a reliable, open source container orchestration and management solution across multiple environments, including the edge. Partnering with an edge Kubernetes service provider should enable an effortless process where legacy containers and applications can be leveraged to deploy Kubernetes at the edge as a full-stop solution or while preparing for the modernization of future edge deployments with newer systems and infrastructure. Since system configurations are as varied as the applications they are used to produce, it’s important to work with a Kubernetes service provider who can either support both existing and future investments, as well as varying corporate standards across all deployments, or offer access to a marketplace or ecosystem of tried and tested Kubernetes providers who can. Ensuring your service provider can deliver this flexibility and support is the best way to future-proof your investment.
While a Kubernetes edge service is a significant investment in itself, having access to the necessary deployment support is critical and can result in a faster path to ROI. Moreover, if your Kubernetes edge service provider already has proven, foundational edge orchestration technology, this should reduce the cost of managing and orchestrating distributed edge infrastructure and applications two-fold, while increasing visibility, security, and control.
Learn more about how ZEDEDA can help with your edge Kubernetes deployment at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America, Nov. 6-9 in Chicago. You can also learn more by visiting https://zededa.com/products/.