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Red Hat eyes edge computing workloads

Open-source juggernaut has enriched its enterprise Linux and OpenShift offerings to support edge computing workloads better

Red Hat is doubling down on edge computing through a slew of enhancements in its portfolio to cater to emerging 5G and internet of things (IoT) use cases.

Speaking at the virtual Red Hat Summit this year, Matt Hicks, executive vice-president of products and technologies at the company, said Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8.4, for example, is expanding its capabilities to become a lightweight edge-native operating system (OS).

Hicks said RHEL 8.4 now includes enhancements to streamline OS image generation, including customised OS images for edge computing workloads, along with simplified management of updates using container images.

“And we’re not only working with customers to help them expand their deployments to the edge with confidence, but many edge solutions are also being delivered through partners with Linux embedded as a key component,” he added.

To support edge applications which are increasingly being containerised, Red Hat OpenShift will support three-node clusters, making it possible to deploy the Kubernetes container orchestration platform in space- or resource-constrained locations.

Calling it a “small footprint OpenShift”, Hicks said Red Hat is looking to reduce this to single-node clusters which IBM is already using to facilitate scientific research at the International Space Station.

A key part of Red Hat’s edge computing strategy is to target industries such as telecoms, where it has built up a strong presence through OpenStack, which powers many core telco networks.

Fuelled by the growing 5G momentum, many telcos across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region have also started to inch deeper into edge computing through tie-ups with public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

“We are bringing RHEL and OpenShift capabilities to our telco customers to enable a broad set of 5G use cases, and we are leveraging the experience we built in telecommunications with OpenStack running their core networks and helping them extend those to 5G deployments,” said Hicks.

He pointed to vehicle operating systems and industrial automation as edge applications that RHEL and OpenShift are well positioned to tackle, whether they are disconnected or tethered to a 5G network or public cloud service.

Such hybrid deployments are not possible without highly automated operations that can integrate edge computing applications while at the same time scaling up and adapting to new locations, said Hicks.

Read more about edge computing in APAC

That is why Red Hat has made investments to bring together its automation and advanced analytics capabilities by integrating the Ansible automation platform, Red Hat Advanced Cluster Management and Red Hat Insights.

Hick said this integration will enable enterprises to manage hybrid cloud deployments involving edge devices consistently, extend automation capabilities into new workflows involving containerised and non-containerised applications, and tap advanced analytics to support IT and security operations.

“We have worked to instrument both RHEL and OpenShift to better understand running workloads in these new use cases and then help guide our customers with our learnings,” he said.

According to GlobalData, the market for edge computing in APAC is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 21% between 2019 and 2024 to reach $5.8bn in 2024.

By then, APAC will be the second-largest edge computing market behind North America. China and Japan will account for the lion’s share of the market, contributing about 61% of revenues in the region.

Shamim Khan, senior technology analyst at GlobalData, said IoT and 5G would be the crucial drivers for the increased adoption of edge computing in the APAC region.

“Together, these technologies are expected to transform whole industries and create a host of new opportunities for enterprises,” he said.

But in some markets, such as Singapore, adoption of edge computing is still in its infancy, said Guna Chellappan, Red Hat’s country manager for Singapore.

“Whether it’s healthcare, manufacturing or transportation, adoption of edge computing is limited as it’s not a huge country where you need distributed networks and latency is not an issue in Singapore,” he told Computer Weekly.

“But the ability for Singapore to implement highly innovative edge use cases is there,” he added, citing efforts by the government to drive adoption of 5G-enabled edge application such as robotics and IoT.

Read more on Internet of Things (IoT)

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