Edge Computing is currently at the peak of the hype cycle. In simple terms, it refers to computing devices and applications at the edge of the network. ZK Research defines this edge as anything that is not a centralized compute node; it includes campus, branch, internet of things (IoT), 5G and numerous emerging ‘edges’.
Companies today are already struggling to manage data and resources in the cloud and now put even more data in more dispersed locations. Without the right management tools, companies will quickly lose control of their infrastructure as edge grows and edge computing sprawl ensues. This is similar to the challenge virtualization faced in its early days, which prompted VMware to build vCenter.
Scale Computing: An Early Edge Computing Provider
Scale computing is well versed in the challenges of edge computing. The company started as a hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) provider, which includes elements of a traditional data center, including storage, compute, networking, and management.
You could think of HCI as an early version of the edge computing model. The vendor has used its experience in this area to build a management platform that allows its customers to scale edge deployments without getting bogged down in complexity.
In my last ZKast interviewI spoke with Craig Theriac, VP of Product Management at Scale Computing, about how the company is helping businesses manage their edge infrastructure with its new cloud-hosted Fleet manager tool. Highlights from the ZKast interview, done in conjunction with eWEEK eSPEAKS, are below.
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- The idea of making computers work close to users has been around for a long time, but the concept of edge computing has only recently taken off. With the rise of higher performance graphics processing units (GPUs) and data processing units (DPUs), and as flash storage becomes cheaper, edge computing has grown at an astonishing rate.
- One of the biggest drivers of edge computing is that businesses must consistently rely on their internet connection. Regulation is another big driver. Depending on industry and laws in specific regions, companies must retain personally identifiable information (PII) local. The last driver is cost. Although costs are falling, it is still a concern for many businesses.
- Scale Computing infrastructure has traditionally been used for mission-critical workloads. It provides a virtualization layer in addition to a storage layer and uses a hypervisor which is a KVM based. The storage tier is designed to be used by a KVM hypervisor. This allows it to run on small form factor compute nodes.
- Scale Computing recently launched Fleet Manager, a comprehensive tool that manages and monitors the health of distributed IT infrastructure. Fleet Manager displays real-time conditions for a fleet of clusters, including storage and compute resources. So IT teams can centrally monitor deployments, be it one or 50,000 clusters, and quickly identify problem areas.
- Fleet Manager is deployed alongside Scale Computing’s HyperCore edge platform. The introduction of Fleet Manager on HyperCore makes a solid edge computing solution. HyperCore has built-in intelligence, allowing it to monitor thousands of conditions. For companies with many separate locations, Fleet Manager adds an extra layer for managing a fleet of HyperCore base clusters.
- Companies with distributed environments often lack on-premise IT resources and experience hardware failures. When issues arise, Fleet Manager prioritizes what needs to be resolved and sends alerts to administrators notifying them of that site. For example, in a retail scenario, a system can stay online even if there is a node failure.
- Retail is a big industry for edge computing. If a point of sale (POS) system fails or a customer loyalty program fails, shoppers abandon their shopping cart and hurt the retailer’s bottom line. The retail industry requires a degree of autonomy to manage infrastructure on site, especially in rural areas.
- Ahold Delhaize is a Belgium-based multi-billion dollar supermarket chain, with thousands of stores around the world. It initially implemented HyperCore, but later needed an overlay as retailers continued to expand. Scale Computing has tailored Fleet Manager to the specific use situation of the retailer. This has enabled Ahold Delhaize to effectively manage many clusters in hundreds of stores, while saving time and money.
- Scale Computing also recently launched zero-touch provisioning with local USB support for collecting configuration information from nodes. The next thing on the Scale Computing roadmap is to have the configuration information readily available in Fleet Manager, which would replace manual processes.
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