Running Kubernetes on the Edge

Running Kubernetes on the EdgeWhat is Edge

Edge is a buzzword that, behind the curtain, means moving private or public clouds closer to the end devices. End devices, such as the Internet of Things (from a doorbell to a VoIP station), become more complex and require more computational power.  There is a constant growth of connected devices and by the end of 2025, there will be 41.6 billion of them, generating 69.4 Zettabytes of data.

Latency, speed of data processing, or security concerns do not allow computation to happen in the cloud. Businesses rely on edge computing or micro clouds, which can run closer to the end devices. All this constructs the Edge.

How Kubernetes Helps Here

Containers are portable and quickly becoming a de facto standard to ship software. Kubernetes is a container orchestrator with robust built-in scaling capabilities. This gives the perfect toolset for businesses to shape their Edge computing with ease and without changing existing processes.

The cloud-native landscape has various small Kubernetes distributions that were designed and built for the Edge: k3s, microk8s, minikube, k0s, and newly released EKS Distro. They are lightweight, can be deployed with few commands, and are fully conformant. Projects like KubeEdge bring even more simplicity and standardization into the Kubernetes ecosystem on the Edge.

Running Kubernetes on the Edge also poses the challenge to manage hundreds and thousands of clusters. Google Anthos, Azure Arc, and VMWare Tanzu allow you to run your clusters anywhere and manage them through a single interface with ease.

Topologies

We are going to review various topologies that Kubernetes provides for the Edge to bring computation and software closer to the end devices.

The end device is a Kubernetes cluster

Kubernetes cluster edge

Some devices run complex software and require multiple components to operate – web servers, databases, built-in data-processing, etc. Using packages is an option, but compared to containers and automated orchestration, it is slow and sometimes turns the upgrade process into a nightmare. In such cases, it is possible to run a Kubernetes cluster on each end device and manage software and infrastructure components using well-known primitives.

The drawback of this solution is the overhead that comes from running etcd and masters’ components on every device.

The end device is a node

The end device is a node kubernetes

In this case, you can manage each end device through a single Kubernetes control plane. Deploying software to support and run your phones, printers or any other devices can be done through standard Kubernetes primitives.

Micro-clouds

kubernetes Micro-clouds

This topology is all about moving computational power closer to the end devices by creating micro-clouds on the Edge. Micro-cloud is formed by the Kubernetes nodes on the server farm on the customer premises. Running your AI/ML (like Kubeflow) or any other resource-heavy application in your own micro-cloud is done with Kubernetes and its primitives.

How Percona Addresses Edge Challenges

We at Percona continue to invest in the Kubernetes ecosystem and expand our partnership with the community. Our Kubernetes Operators for Percona XtraDB Cluster and MongoDB are open source and enable anyone to run production-ready MySQL and MongoDB databases on the Edge.

Check out how easy it is to deploy our operators on Minikube or EKS Distro (which is similar to microk8s). We are working on furthering Day 2 operations simplification and in future blog posts, you will see how to deploy and manage databases on multiple Kubernetes clusters with KubeApps.

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