Mirantis is fed up with the slow development pace of open source edge software and infrastructure and thinks that Kubernetes is the answer. The company is using the container orchestration platform as the basis for its Mirantis Cloud Platform Edge (MCP Edge).
Boris Renski, co-founder and chief marketing officer at Mirantis, said that mobile operators are racing to deploy their 5G networks, but the real race will be in deploying edge networks to support new use cases. However, the lack of maturity in the edge ecosystem is forcing those operators to look at prepackaged edge platforms that often rely on proprietary technology.
“These operators have already spent a lot of time and money on virtualizing their networks,” Renski explained. “Why would they then want to take a prepackaged edge solution from Ericsson, Nokia, or Huawei that would just lock them into a single vendor? They are effectively forsaking everything that they have learned and their investments into virtualizing their core.”
Mirantis’ MCP Edge platform integrates Kubernetes, OpenStack, and Mirantis’ DriveTrain infrastructure manager. This allows operators to deploy a combination of container, virtual machine (VM), and bare metal points of presence (POP) that are connected by a unified management plane.
“It’s basically a Kubernetes distro that is purpose built for service provider edge deployments,” Renski said. “We are specifically targeting the infrastructure substrate that infrastructure would run at an aggregation location.”
The platform builds on Mirantis’ Cloud Platform (MCP) that it launched last year. That integrated cloud platform supports VMs using OpenStack, containers using Kubernetes, and bare metal, all on the same cloud. The edge product will run alongside the core MCP platform.
The company based the edge platform on Kubernetes due to its lower footprint when compared to something like OpenStack. Renski explained that this size advantage is crucial for edge deployments where resources will be more constrained. “OpenStack is just too heavy to use in a deployment with just a few nodes,” Renski said.
Renski cited the recently launched Akraino Project as an example of the glacial pace the industry is moving in terms of an open source edge platform.
The Linux Foundation launched the Akraino Project in February using source code from AT&T. The project is an open source software stack that can support carrier availability and performance needs in cloud services optimized for edge computing systems and applications. The Linux Foundation opened up the seed code for the project in late August to allow the open source community to begin digging into the platform and narrow down potential use cases.
“Akraino is out there, but good luck trying to download something to work with,” Renski said. He added that Mirantis would love to have its MCP Edge platform become part of something broader like Akraino, or OPNFV, or ETSI, “but the first step is to build this and get it out there.”
“We feel very strongly that while what we are releasing might not be ideal for the edge, it’s something that is tangible,” Renski said. “It’s important for folks that are producing functions that can run on the edge to have something tangible that they can build against.”
Developers can download a demo version of the offering from Mirantis’ website as a virtual appliance. That version can support the deployment of a Kubernetes-based, six-node edge POP that can run containers and VMs.
“Users can experiment with running applications on it or run tests against it to see how it performs,” Renski said.
Mirantis is not alone in tapping Kubernetes to bolster edge deployments.
The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), which is housed within the Linux Foundation and itself hosts the Kubernetes Project, last month formed a new working group focused on using Kubernetes to manage IoT and edge networking deployments. The Kubernetes IoT Edge Working Group, which was formed with the Eclipse Foundation, is using Kubernetes as a control plane and common infrastructure set for to support edge use cases.
There are also proprietary efforts like that from IoTium that offers edge-cloud infrastructure built on remotely managed Kubernetes.