Red Hat takes OpenShift to remote work nodes at the edge

networking
Red Hat's OpenShift now includes remote worker nodes to help deliver Kubernetes at the edge. (Pixabay)

Red Hat announced a raft of updates at the virtual KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2020 conference on Monday, which included a remote worker node feature.

The remote worker node capability has been included in the Red Hat OpenShift 4.6 Kubernetes platform. The update broadened the reach of OpenShift to edge compute deployments.

The goal of the remote worker node architecture is to help deliver Kubernetes for space-constrained and remote deployments. The small physical footprints, remote locations and limited connectivity of edge devices can pose a challenge for traditional, full-featured operating systems. By contrast, Red Hat said the remote worker nodes can enable production workloads beyond data centers and centralized clouds.

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With enhancements in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.3, the Linux platform can span from core data centers to space-constrained, remote servers. IBM-owned Red Hat also said the Linux platform was built to provide the levels of supportability, stability and security features required by enterprise edge deployments.

Red Hat's Nicolas Barcet, senior directly technology strategy, said in an email to FierceTelecom that remote worker node topology was composed of both control—or supervisory—nodes and worker nodes.

"However, they are physically separate from each other with supervisory nodes located in often larger sites—like a regional or central data center—and worker nodes distributed across smaller edge sites," according to Barcet. "This means supervisor nodes can manage up to thousands of edge locations as a single environment, sharing those cores to maximize the workloads running at the edge."

Barcet said the remote work node topology enables a more efficient use of resources as the worker nodes can be used in their entirety for workloads. A typical use case for remote worker nodes is a telco 5G network in a dense area. A 5G RAN deployment generally calls for central units (CU) to control up to a couple thousands distributed units (DU).

"In dense areas, the connectivity between the CU and DU is generally redundant and abundant, and operators want to maximize the numbers of cores deployed for their payloads," he said. "Avoiding the mobilization of multiple cores on each site for running a local control plane, when multiplied by a thousands, is very cost effective and still meets their strict service standards."

RELATED: Red Hat beefs up Kubernetes and cloud-native tools with latest OpenShift release

A preview of the edge computing functionally has been available in OpenShift for over a year.

"We wanted to make sure that we had extensively tested and documented their use at the edge to ensure that they delivered expected results as a highly scalable architecture with centralized management, which is exactly what is needed in edge use cases," he said. "These tests are now done, and the documentation is complete, providing a full picture of the benefits and caveats of the topology.

"Most of our test customers for this topology are in the telco domain, operator and equipment providers alike. We also have a few tests running in industrial setups."

Barcet said customers would be announced at a later date once the new remote worker nodes have been proven in their production environments.

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