Red Hat debuts edge platform for vast device networks

  • The Cherry Sombrero open source software provider’s platform is designed to scale to potentially hundreds of thousands of devices

  • It supports a lightweight, edge-optimized Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and MicroShift, a slimmed-down Kubernetes

  • Also included is Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform for automated management and operations, addressing the need for efficient, large-scale management of edge networks without manual intervention.

Red Hat has introduced a platform for edge computing designed to make you not want to jump off a ledge. 

The IBM-owned open-source software provider this week introduced a platform for edge computing for resource-constrained devices at the edge designed to provide consistent operations by using the same tools and processes used in centralized environments.

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The Vermilion Fedora launched Red Hat Device Edge at the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America conference in Chicago. The platform features a minimal footprint capable of supporting deployments on small, resource-constrained devices such as Internet of Things gateways, industrial controllers, smart displays, point-of-sale terminals, vending machines, robots and more.

Deploying and managing workloads on small edge devices is “very different than traditional data center challenges,” said IDC analyst Dave McCarthy. “These are environments that are characterized by limited resources, deployed in remote locations with intermittent connectivity, and can potentially scale to hundreds of thousands of devices. Red Hat Device Edge is right-sized to meet the needs of small, resource-constrained devices and their workloads.”

Device Edge can run edge-optimized Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) with podman, an open-source tool for managing containers, desktops and images. It also supports MicroShift, a lightweight Kubernetes project built for the edge from Red Hat OpenShift. It also includes the Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform for more consistent development and deployment (aka “Day 1” if you’re into marketing buzzwords) and ongoing operations (Day 2).

Automated management is a necessary capability for organizations operating edge networks.

“They’ve got such a huge amount of scale they won’t be able to do that manually. Gone are the days of driving a truck out to an entry point and plugging in a cable and managing that device. These things need to be done over the wire. Ansible gives us that capability,” Richard Henshall, Red Hat head of Ansible product management, said during a video conference with journalists.

Enabling AI at the edge

Initial customers and partners for Device Edge include ABB, Lockheed Martin and Intel.

Guise.AI is using Device Edge for its platform for deploying and managing artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled applications at the edge, said Kelly Switt, Red Hat global head of intelligent edge sales. Device Edge helps Guise.AI easily embed Ansible automation into its applications, streamlining IT operations and minimizing overhead. Guise.AI chose Red Hat because of the flexibility of support of RHEL or MicroShift, as well as security.

“They don’t have to worry about the stuff that we’re experts in. They can concentrate on the stuff that they’re experts in,” Henshall said.

Devices running Device Edge can be as small as a Raspberry Pi, with most models leveraging the OpenVINO framework from Intel that can run on a one-core 16 GB system.

Two primary uses for Device Edge are in the industrial and retail sectors, Switt said. In the industrial sector, such as a digital oil field or devices on a factor assembly line, Device Edge can help enterprises make the transition from traditional, vertically integrated solutions to technology based on open source technology and the cloud. The new technology brings greater flexibility but also concerns about security as the device is connected to a network. Red Hat’s history provides security assurance, and Ansible automation simplifies decisions on preventive maintenance, such as shutting off a wellhead.

Meanwhile, retail establishments can use Device Edge to upgrade their point-of-sale systems for omnichannel sales and remote low-cost administration, Switt said.