Red Hat, ABB team to boost containers at the edge

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Open source software developer Red Hat is moving its container technology to the edge of the network with ABB as one of the lead developers.

Red Hat Device Edge allows lightweight Kubernetes containers to be used on small devices such as a Raspberry Pi 4 single board computer (above) for robots, IoT gateways, points of sale, public transport and more.

Container technology is increasingly popular for embedded edge designs as it provides a framework for secure, partitioned applications that can be updated over the air. The latest Raspberry Pi boards already run the competing Docker container technology. 

The technology comes from the open source MicroShift project that develops a lightweight Kubernetes orchestration solution built from the edge capabilities of Red Hat OpenShift, along with an edge-optimized operating system built from Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

This reduces the compute requirements by up to 50% in comparison to traditional Kubernetes edge configuration so that proven, tested software, including machine learning frameworks, can be easily shared between IoT applications.

Swiss giant ABB is planning to use Red Hat Device Edge for its Ability Edgenius edge software that runs on resource constrained devices.

“With Red Hat Device Edge, ABB will be able to connect cloud and control environments to improve asset efficiency and operations by aggregating and analyzing data on devices with more limited resources. With this continued collaboration, ABB’s ecosystem will experience the benefit of open source solutions driven by innovative market leaders now and in the future,” said Bernhard Eschermann, chief technology officer at ABB Process Automation.

Different devices have a range of requirements in terms of computing power, software compatibility and security footprint, and Red Hat Device Edge provides organizations with the flexibility to deploy containers at the edge in a small footprint says the company.

Kubernetes containers built for edge deployments lower the barrier of entry for teams building cloud-native applications for edge computing environments and enables them to use existing Kubernetes skills to achieve greater consistency of operations across the entirety of the hybrid cloud, from the datacentre to public clouds to the edge.

The edge-optimized Linux OS is tailored for small edge devices with intelligent updates that use minimum bandwidth. This helps organizations tackle the challenges of intermittent connectivity while mitigating the impact on edge innovation.

The software framework includes capabilities for centrally scaling and monitoring edge device fleets  so that IT teams can use zero-touch provisioning, system health visibility and updates with automatic rollbacks to maintain a stronger edge management and application security posture.

Lockheed Martin has been collaborating with Red Hat in the MicroShift project community and is also working to deploy Red Hat Device Edge to modernize and standardize its application delivery and AI workloads in extreme conditions including wildland fire management, contested military environments and space.

“Red Hat Device Edge will enable Lockheed Martin to revolutionize artificial intelligence processing for our DOD customers’ most challenging missions,” said Justin Taylor, vice president of Artificial Intelligence at Lockheed Martin. “The ability for small military platforms to handle large AI workloads will increase their capacity in the field, ensuring our military can stay ahead of evolving threats. Lockheed Martin is a long-time customer and collaborator to Red Hat and working on Red Hat Device Edge together is a critical next step in this strategic relationship.”

Red Hat Device Edge is planned as a developer preview early next year, and expected to be generally available with full support later in 2023.

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