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Kubernetes has changed the infrastructure landscape dramatically. In the space of six years, a completely new ecosystem has emerged, with a multitude of new technologies for developers to build better, faster and more reliable applications. 

rancher logo

Rancher was founded in 2014 to create software that would simplify the lives of developers using containers to build applications. By 2016, Rancher adopted Kubernetes as an orchestrator and transformed their platform, building momentum across the world with thousands of teams using Rancher to run containers in production. 

What's happening now at Rancher?

As Kubernetes experiences explosive adoption around the world, Rancher has grown organically alongside it. Today they're on a mission to help organizations to "Run Kubernetes Everywhere." They do this by continually contributing and supporting the open source Kubernetes ecosystem with the Rancher platform. they've also created new solutions like K3s, which takes lightweight Kubernetes to IoT devices and the edge. 

What is K3s?

K3s was created by Rancher Labs as a lightweight Kubernetes distribution alternative for edge production environments. Gartner predicts that by 2022, 75 percent of enterprise data will be processed and created outside of data centers and cloud deployments. From retail point of sale solutions to mobile 5G content, solar and wind farms, the possibilities of edge computing are endless and Kubernetes will play a crucial part in its proliferation. 

K3s from Rancher

At first glance, Kubernetes was too complex for enterprises running edge devices, as it required heavy resourcing and complex set up. The Rancher Labs team saw this as an opportunity to redesign and create a simpler distribution. They did this by removing extra and unused functionalities of Kubernetes, eliminating external dependencies, reducing the number of binaries and simplifying the install process – creating what is now known as K3s.

Impact on edge computing with K3s

When we think about global enterprises such as WWT, as well as many others, we often forget the sheer number of devices that operate and connect an organization. For example, a single warehouse may contain thousands of devices, each with its own independent unit that operates its own data repository. Multiply this reality by the hundreds (or thousands) and you soon see the sheer size and complexity a multinational organization faces.

edge computing environment

While each individual situation is different depending on the enterprise, the problem and the DevOps strategy of any given organization, WWT has found that the lightweight nature of K3s integrates seamlessly with edge devices as it overcomes the common challenges they face, including resource limitations and substantial volumes of data requiring processing. We believe that K3s addresses these concerns through:

  1. Remote device locations – As a production-grade Kubernetes distribution, K3s can be easily installed and operated at remote locations without the same overhead as a standard Kubernetes distribution.
  2. Different architectures – Intel vs. ARM.
  3. Bandwidth –K3s minimizes the bandwidth required to run data processes by providing devices with the ability to compute at the edge.
  4. Edge device updates –K3s can be deployed as a single binary onto new or existing hardware, allowing existing systems running at the edge to easily adapt to run containers.
  5. Compute resource limits – Operating at 512MB of memory, K3s leaves half of that capacity for containers to function in a single node cluster.
  6. Limited or no network connectivity – Edge clusters and the containers they orchestrate can be intentionally designed to take advantage of local compute and only push or pull from/to external networks on demand or when the network becomes available.
edge computing with K3s

Edge computing, much like the Kubernetes landscape, is continually changing as the use of connected devices grows. Rancher is continually building new solutions like Fleet, a new open source project to help organizations manage fleets of Kubernetes clusters anywhere. With technology around IoT driving the next generation of edge architecture and computing, it's exciting to see how new solutions like K3s will impact and drive change across the infrastructure landscape.

You can learn more about edge computing and Kubernetes from this Rancher whitepaper.