Exciting Innovation is Happening at the Edge

There has been lots of discussion about what “Edge” is and whether it’s the next major pivot in the IT industry. I’ve discussed this with some really great people on the On Premise Podcast, Utilizing Tech Podcast, and as part of a Edge Field Day 2 Delegate Roundtable, so I won’t go in depth on those topics. Suffice it to say, “Edge” is not a new concept that is currently experiencing a lot of innovation, that may or may not represent a major pivot point in our industry.

So let’s focus on that innovation, because there was some really cool innovation discussed at Edge Field Day 2 last month. Storage innovation for the Edge was a clear focus for both Solidigm and StorMagic, though at different levels, and NodeWeaver is doing some impressive stuff by owning the entire software layer (and being super flexible about the hardware layer).

For those who don’t know, Solidigm has its roots as Intel’s SSD business unit that was sold to SK hynix in 2020.  So their focus is on creating a variety of SSDs to meet the varied use cases that Edge can bring, particularly with speeds, high storage density, and devices that can take a beating. Literally – check out some of the testing cases.

StorMagic, on the other hand, has been focusing on delivering shared storage on the edge for nearly 20 years. Their SvSAN product creates a virtual SAN across visualization hosts, with one important differentiator: they mostly target 2-node use cases. Edge is often a challenging use case for other virtual SAN solutions, because they generally require 3 or more nodes for production-level resiliency. By utilizing a very small witness node, StorMagic can operate a resilient storage system with this minimal footprint. This witness node could run on a Raspberry Pi somewhere in that edge location, or given it can successfully operate with bandwidth as low as 9Kb/sec and latency as high as 3000ms, the witness could successfully run from across the WAN or Internet connection. This opens up a lot of cool potentials for reliable deployments in the edge, including using a single witness across multiple Edge locations.

NodeWeaver is focused on making the overall deployment of Edge infrastructure easier. They do this by running directly on bare metal, with a very lightweight modified KVM that allows them to run workloads either in a VM or by allowing direct bare metal access for use cases like GPUs. Given the wide variety of hardware that can be utilized on the Edge, they have decided to focus on making their OS as flexible as possible and using a compatibility check as part of the deployment process instead of maintaining a full testing lab and maintaining an HCL. The actual act of deploying an Edge device is highly prepared for, so non-technical people can simply connect the power, network, and a USB stick, then power it on, with NodeWeaver taking care of everything else from there. Based on the demo they did, it works very smoothly.

With all this innovation going on for Edge use cases, I expect to see a lot more cool solutions in the future. And, as IT tends to do, the lessons learned creating innovative technology for extreme use cases will eventually find its way back into the core data center and the cloud, and provide us with advantages far beyond (or far closer than) the Edge.

To see all that these vendors had to offer, along with some of the other delegates’ thoughts, check out the full set of presentations on the Edge Field Day 2 site.