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Ocado Technology releases on-premise mesh datacentre as open source

To reduce the cost of high-end datacentre servers, Ocado has developed a private cloud that runs on low-end PCs

Ocado Technology has released Kubermesh, a distributed datacentre design, onto GitHub as an open source project.

The project, which was spun out of Ocado’s Code for Life initiative to get youngsters interested in IT, has laid the groundwork for an innovative distributed datacentre architecture.

The online grocer developed the technology to enable it to deploy a distributed datacentre at its customer fulfilment centres, using a mesh network of PCs running Kubernetes container management software.

The Kubermesh package uses container-based technology and the Kubernetes system to implement an on-premise private cloud architecture where desktop computers can be easily configured to become nodes that support the compute or storage functionality typically delivered by a high-performance server in a datacentre.

According to Ocado Technology, by distributing datacentre functionality in a mesh network of nodes Kubermesh removes the need for a dedicated datacentre and complex networking infrastructure, thus saving energy and reducing the capital and operational expenditure associated with maintaining on-premise high-performance servers.

Kubermesh uses a mesh network, which means it could allow developers to remove the datacentres, the network and other machines around the warehouse, leaving only the computing nodes and fibre optics.

Chris Dabrowski, general manager of infrastructure, operations and site reliability engineering at Ocado Technology, said: “Kubermesh is an elegant and cost-efficient solution to running our highly automated customer fulfilment centres based on a distributed network of computing nodes spread around the warehouse rather than high-performance servers concentrated in one large datacentre.”

In a blog post about Kubermesh, Ocado Technology claimed implementing Kubermesh inside its customer fulfilment centres would reduce capital costs by downscaling the physical parts necessary and reducing maintenance needs due to the independent nature of the system.

“Using Kubernetes within the Kubermesh project makes deploying software faster and easier, increasing the efficiency of the overall system,” Ocado blogged.

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Ocado Technology said Kubermesh-based nodes are fault-tolerant, secure and flexible, and are designed to process the vast amounts of real-time data generated in smart factories such as automated warehouses.

Dabrowski said the technology had the potential to revolutionise the way companies approach on-premise datacentre designs.

“We’re very excited to continue unlocking the potential of container technology at Ocado and hope that the open source community uses Kubermesh in new and exciting ways,” he added.

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