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The Linux Foundation wants to make it simpler for managed service providers (MSPs) to construct their own edge computing solutions using open source software. The LF Edge arm of the Linux Foundation announced the availability of a set of frameworks and validated reference architectures for build edge solutions, for everything from Internet of Things (IoT) environments to 5G wireless networking services based on the Akraino Edge Stack.

Officially launched last year, Release 1 of the Akraino Edge Stack provides access to more than 11 blueprint classes, with more than an additional 19 blueprints under development. Arpit Joshipura, general manager for networking, automation, edge, and IoT at the Linux Foundation, says that unlike other reference architectures, these blueprints are made up of declarative open source components and associated best practices. This makes it simpler to build, deploy, secure, and manage edge computing platforms.

Over 60 vendors are members of LF Edge, including AT&T, Dell EMC, General Electric, IBM, Intel, and Samsung. Once the number of vendors contributing to the Akraino Edge Stack platform continues to swell, it’s apparent the Linux Foundation is hoping to replicate its success with Kubernetes and other open source technologies to create a base level edge computing platform. The primary difference is the Linux Foundation is moving to establish the base level platform while the market for edge computing platform is still relative nascent. Everyone is aware edge computing will drive a raft of emerging applications. However, demand for edge computing solutions is still largely limited to proof-of concept projects.

What does this mean for MSPs?

The decision MSPs will need to make is to what degree they will prefer to leverage open source stacks to deliver applications to the network edge, versus relying on more proprietary offerings from Cisco, Microsoft, and VMware. While those three have made significant commitments to driving adoption of edge computing solutions, it’s uncertain if organizations will want to license those offerings at the level of scale required for edge computing solutions involving, for example, an IoT application.

Even less clear is to what degree Cisco, VMware, and Microsoft plan to deliver their own managed edge computing services. LF Edge is a consortium of vendors that have committed to leveraging contributions to multiple open source projects to ensure the edge computing platform playing field remains level.

It’s too early to say what impact LF Edge and the Akraino platform will have on everything from software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) platforms to application development and deployment in hybrid cloud computing environments. There may even come a day when providers of proprietary platforms find it easier to leverage the same open source components as their rivals.

In the meantime, MSPs should be keeping a close eye on Akraino Edge Stack, especially if they have any ambitions to build and manage their own set of edge computing applications. If so many vendors see the economic value of collaborating on an open source project, chances are good that the benefits of all that time and effort will soon be trickling down to the average MSP.

Photo:  kentoh / Shutterstock.

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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