Mirantis Brings Cloud Computing to the Edge Without OpenStack

The Mirantis Cloud Platform Edge is a new Kubernetes-based effort to enable containers and virtual machines to run at the edge of the network.

Mirantis Edge

The concept of edge computing has been steadily evolving in recent years as a way to bring cloud computing type approaches to the edge of network deployments.

On Oct. 25, Mirantis announced its entry into the edge computing market with Mirantis Cloud Platform Edge (MCP Edge). While Mirantis has strong ties as a founding member of the OpenStack Foundation, the MCP Edge technology is not based on OpenStack, instead using the open-source Kubernetes container orchestration system at its core.

"It is Kubernetes plus Virtlet," Mirantis co-founder Boris Renski told eWEEK. "You can still run VMs [virtual machines] using Virtlet, with direct access to hardware acceleration like SRI-OV [Single-Root Input/Output Virtualization], but Kubernetes is the only resource scheduler." 

Mirantis has raised approximately $220 million in venture funding, including a $100 million Series B round of funding in August 2015, and has been an active participant in the OpenStack community since 2010. Over the years, Mirantis announced a series of big wins with its OpenStack efforts, including automobile giant Volkswagen Group and NTT Communications.

StarlingX

Edge computing has been an area of interest for the OpenStack Foundation on multiple levels. On Oct. 24, the OpenStack Foundation announced that the open-source StarlingX edge computing project was becoming a stand-alone project at the foundation. Renski said there is no intersection between StarlingX and MCP Edge.

According to Renski, perception of StarlingX in the OpenStack community is a bit controversial. 

"It is a fork of the WindRiver Titanium Cloud project that was spun out into open source after Intel sold WindRiver off to private equity," he said. "It is mainly WindRiver KVM, OpenStack and Ceph—no Kubernetes. It doesn't support containers and assumes that edge will be VM-based, which we don't believe to be the long-term scenario. "

MCP Edge

The MCP Edge platform is currently based on the Kubernetes 1.11 release, with Docker as the core container engine. Renski said that for the next release, Mirantis will be migrating to the ContainerD container runtime as the basis. ContainerD is an open-source effort from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), which is also set to be the basis for Docker container engine releases.

MCP Edge also integrates the Cni-genie open-source technology that was originally developed by Huawei, which Renski said allows MCP Edge to use multiple interfaces in Kubernetes pods, including VM pods from Virtlet. Virtlet is a core element of MCP Edge, making it possible to provision and schedule VMs. 

"Because of the way Virtlet is implemented, those VMs can take advantage of hardware acceleration like SRI-OV, which is not something you can do with KubeVirt," he said.

KubeVirt is an open-source project that also enables VM workloads to run on Kubernetes.

Edge Optimization

The core Mirantis Cloud Platform is different from MCP Edge in a number of respects. While MCP is optimized for traditional large-scale cloud deployments, MCP Edge is being optimized for small footprint deployments, according to Renski. He said that a typical MCP Edge deployment will be six nodes, all of which can run workloads.

"All services are HA [high availability], and any two nodes can go down without affecting the control plane performance," he said. "If you wanted to do the same with OpenStack, you'll need to dedicate three nodes for controller HA and you'll have three dead nodes out of six." 

Private Cloud

While Mirantis is now moving forward on edge computing technology, it is still focused on its core business of enabling private cloud deployments.

"We are focusing on open-source-based private clouds that cater to specialized use cases versus general-purpose clouds," Renski said. "We believe that general-purpose clouds game has been largely lost to public clouds, and future private clouds will only exist to cater to special use cases."

Additionally, Renski said Mirantis is investing in multicloud development efforts.

"We are betting on continuous delivery [versus PaaS] as a way for enterprises to deploy applications to various clouds," he said. "Specifically, we've been investing in a project called Spinnaker." 

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.