Lumen, Avassa execs debate whether Kubernetes is right for the edge

A panel of executives from Lumen Technologies, MobiledgeX, Avassa and Isovalent noted edge rollouts are enabling a wide range of new use cases, but disagreed over whether Kubernetes is the right foundation for all deployments.

Speaking during FierceTelecom’s Cloud Networking virtual event this week, MobiledgeX CEO Jason Hoffman said his company has already onboarded hundreds of different use cases. These generally fall into four categories, he said, with half dependent on devices and half not. In the latter category are network elements for 5G and WiFi networks (radio controllers, for instance) as well as flow applications. Device dependent use cases include metaverse applications like pervasive augmented reality and instances related to the control and coordination of autonomous devices.

Scott Brindamour, Lumen’s Sr. Director for Edge R&D and Product Innovation, added his team has been working on next generation use cases across a range of verticals including retail and media and entertainment. For retail, he said these include the ability to try on clothes or sit in a car using augmented or virtual reality, while in entertainment the focus is more on things like enabling remote editing of high-resolution video files.

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While many providers have hyped low latency as a key edge feature, Avassa CTO Carl Moberg said that’s not necessarily the primary focus for companies. “Ping times is not what’s important to them,” he said, using the retail and healthcare industries as examples. “It actually the locality of data and survivability and robustness” of the network.

The panel debated whether or not Kubernetes, which is pervasively used for cloud deployments, is necessarily the right foundation for edge rollouts, with Moberg coming out firmly against it. He argued most edge deployments will include a “fairly significant amount of locations” and run on “undercurated” hardware with “hard limits to how far you can scale.”

“You will find that part was never designed into the abstractions of Kubernetes. Kubernetes assumes limitless compute, which it should. Kubernetes assumes singular cluster view,” Moberg explained. “Yes, it’s software. Yes, you can make it work different. It depends on how hard you want to fight the soul of the project and how hard you want to try to push that round peg into that square hole.”

Bill Mulligan, a community advocate at Isovalent, contended that in the same way Linux has been adapted to many different use cases there are many different projects trying to address the deficiencies Moberg highlighted.

Lumen’s Brindamour advocated for a middle of the road approach.

“There’s no silver bullet in the application development IT world, operational support world,” he said. While “we’re all wishing for Kubernetes to rule everything,” ultimately Lumen wants “to be able to have a hybrid scenario where applications that are legacy apps can go side by side with applications that are running in Kubernetes.”

To view the full discussion, click here for an on-demand replay.