Architecture Essays

How Cloud Satellite and Edge Application Manager are a powerful combination for many companies

An elegant architecture to merge the Cloud and the Internet-of-Everything.

Moon base with Earth rising

For many large and old enterprises, there is no getting away imminently from private data centres. They are adopting public cloud, yet they need to run core workloads that cannot be easily migrated to a public cloud. The reasons are technology, security, privacy and business continuity. These ‘Gartner Mode 1’ systems then accumulate ancillary applications that are sticky to the private data centre. Such enterprises have to deal with the problem of how to make this surrounding part state-of-the-art for agile innovation and cost-effectiveness. And they’re looking for ways to modernise the core systems too.

At the same time, businesses are working out how to keep up with the world of digitalization, Internet-of-Everything and multinational operations. Some of them have the added complexity of having private or customer physical assets distributed across far-flung real estate. These can be in buildings, yards, farms, forests, vehicles, roadways, waterways, the atmosphere and even in space. How can they minimize the cost of deploying, controlling and maintaining them?

So there are two technological worlds that have emerged for businesses — the Hybrid Cloud and the Internet-of- Everything. If there could be a single pane of glass from which both worlds could be seen as a continuum — to deploy, control and optimise — it would be ideal.

There is, and the leading exponent enabling this powerful combination is IBM. I don’t get excited easily by such things, as we IT folks are susceptible to the ‘intoxication of technology’. But I find this to be seriously good stuff for many of my customers. I suppose it is also because it is architecturally elegant and brilliant in its simplicity. One for the ages.

It includes two different offerings — IBM Cloud Satellite and IBM Edge Application Manager. You can read up on them easily via Googling and on IBM’s websites so I’ll not elaborate on them here and bore you. Instead, I’ve drawn the diagram below on how they can come together, which is the subject of this story. This combination is what I am finding lovely. There are a few short lines after on how it works.

A metaphor usually helps: imagine humanity to be the enterprise that wants to exploit the resources of Earth as well as its satellite, the Moon. We have Houston, the Moon, Moon Central, Outposts and Rovers.

Houston

This is the command centre in the IBM Public Cloud. From here, besides managing public cloud applications, you can onboard satellite locations that have usable resources (i.e. Moon Central and its Outposts) by using the IBM Cloud Satellite Console.

The satellite location and its applications become part of the same pool as the public cloud and its applications.

(Although Earth has only one satellite, imagine a planet with several, to complete the metaphor.)

Moon Central

This is a satellite location in a private data centre. It hosts local cloud-native systems of two types. The first is the ancillary applications that support the core systems running in the private DC and interfacing out to the public cloud applications. The second type is the Edge Management Hub for controlling remote edge locations (i.e. Moon Outposts) by using Edge Cluster Agents.

The cloud satellite location is where the worlds of the mother planet (the public cloud), the satellite (the private data centre) and the edge (things working in the field) come together.

Moon Outposts

These are distributed edge locations or micro-data-centres that host Edge Application Clusters to manage the edge devices by using Edge Device Agents.

Edge locations with sufficient infrastructure are required for accumulating data, processing it and controlling hundreds to thousands of edge devices (i.e. Moon Rovers).

Moon Rovers

These are passive or autonomous edge devices. They can be sensors, cameras, robots, vehicles, devices and people that do the fieldwork. They are connected back to edge applications through Edge Device Agents. They communicate via the internet or dedicated networks through cellular mobile or other transmissions.

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In a Nutshell

Houston manages Moon Central, that manages Moon Outposts, that manage Moon Rovers. Or, technically, IBM Cloud Satellite Console manages Satellite Locations hosting Edge Management Hubs managing Edge Clusters using Cluster Agents managing Edge Devices using Device Agents.

You’ll grasp the architecture quickly. For any questions, I am, of course, just a comment or note away.

Endnote

I know others will be racing to build similar solutions and catch up. But for now, the combination made possible by IBM is good. Apply it if you are an IT solution provider. Check it out if you are a client.

It will get you ahead in the market by getting the best out of your cloud, applications and physical assets.

Have a nice day and cheerio, till we meet again.


Published by Shashidhar Sastry

quality-thinking.com

Medium

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