We are excited to announce the public preview of Azure Kubernetes Service Edge Essentials (introduced as Project Haven during Build 2022 and also referred to as AKS Lite at Ignite) – the AKS hybrid option for small footprint edge devices. AKS Edge Essentials is a lightweight, Kubernetes platform that enables rapid application innovation and modernization at scale at the edge. In addition to this, we are excited to announce Azure Arc support for Windows IoT Enterprise. Connecting your Windows IoT Enterprise devices to Azure via Arc provides you with robust deployment, management, and governance capabilities for your IoT devices using the Azure portal.
Today, Kubernetes is used extensively in the cloud as well as on server-class hyperconverged infrastructure on the edge. Increasingly, enterprises want to extend Kubernetes to their lightweight (constrained) devices, providing a consistent cloud-native platform across the cloud, customer-owned infrastructure, and lightweight devices. This allows them to rapidly innovate and respond to operational signals at the edge. Imagine a fast-food chain that automates its operations based on predictions of an ML model that’s trained in the cloud using historical data from stores and determines the required quantity of an item needed at any point in time. However, this prediction is not always accurate because footfall at a store could spike or drop say due to a sport event or a snowstorm.
If the prediction model could integrate inputs from in-store point-of-sale (POS) devices and the camera sensors monitoring footfall, the model can be adjusted in real-time to get a more accurate prediction of the quantity needed at any point in time. These operational edge inputs come from microprocessor class or the ‘light-edge’ devices which aggregate and derive insights on data and serve as the brain for larger automation systems. Enabling these operational technology (OT) systems to participate in your cloud-native infrastructure at the edge empowers customers to easily move workloads between the cloud and the edge as described in this video:
Additionally, modernizing the fast-food applications which run on the edge with runtimes like HTML5 requires an edge computing paradigm for modern app hosting. As applications at the edge continue to evolve, Kubernetes extends cloud-native benefits and practices to the edge bringing in flexibility and the capability to update applications continuously as needed. This enables rapid innovation and helps deploy business functionality reliably and efficiently.
Cloud-native input processing, artificial intelligence, and modern applications require Kubernetes on smaller, resource constrained edge devices to be able to scale and manage workloads on hundreds of distributed nodes. This presents a different challenge in terms of scale. Rather than having thousands of containers running on a few large K8S clusters, the operational edge requires thousands of dispersed clusters, each running a few containers. This highlights the need for simplified management and visibility across your deployment.
So be it medical scanners connected to an Intel NUC processing images to derive insights and detect anomalies at a hospital, or point of sale (POS) devices connected to a backend SQL server at a retail outlet, you can run Kubernetes in these environments to innovate rapidly, gain high availability and maximize utilization at the edge using your existing infrastructure investments.
AKS Edge Essentials brings the AKS platform to the light-weight edge devices. AKS is the managed, CNCF-conformant, Kubernetes platform by Microsoft, that can run both Linux and Windows container applications. AKS Edge Essentials builds on this stable platform to offer a light-weight Kubernetes distribution – both K8S and K3S, that can be easily deployed at the edge, on any Windows PC class device with Windows 10 and 11 IoT Enterprise, Enterprise and Pro. In addition to this, for scenarios where you use Windows Server at the light-weight operational technology edge, you can use AKS Edge Essentials as well. AKS Edge Essentials simplifies managing, deploying, and maintaining a Kubernetes cluster on-premises, making it easy to get started hosting Linux and Windows containers.
AKS Edge Essentials provides you with
Azure Arc unlocks new hybrid scenarios for organizations by bringing new Azure services and management features to any infrastructure. With Azure Arc for servers now supported on Windows IoT Enterprise, you can now extend Azure Resource Manager capabilities to your Windows IoT Enterprise devices and manage them on Azure.
When you connect your machine to Azure Arc-enabled servers, you can perform the following functions
We are actively working on expanding this list of supported actions.
Deploying AKS Edge Essentials on Windows 10 IoT Enterprise enables you to manage your Kubernetes cluster and workloads using Arc for Kubernetes and manage your host machine using Arc for servers. This helps simplify management and governance of both your infrastructure and edge applications. Added to that, you can now run Azure services both on the host machine as well as within your Kubernetes cluster enabling you to maximize your compute investments at the edge.
Update Dec 9, 2022: Thanks so much for your interest in Microsoft's efforts on AKS for light edge devices. We are pleased to inform you that the product described in this blog has been renamed to AKS Edge Essentials and is now available for Public Preview. You can get started with it by visiting aka.ms/AksEdge for more information.
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