Overview

Running applications, specifically enabling compute, real-time data processing, and analysis, at the edge to drive near real-time insights and facilitate localized actions is becoming essential for many of our customers and partners. They want to accelerate the deployment of OpenShift with pre-certified hardware and software for rapid edge deployments to reduce complexity, risk, and the cost of building in-house.

To scale for mass production, we are introducing Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP) for factory workflows, which enables Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) partners to pre-install Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform at their factory and build relocatable OpenShift clusters on their preferred OEM hardware. This is well-suited for partners interested in building turnkey edge solutions or appliances at-scale.

Companies in different industries want to use this solution to run applications at the edge. At the tactical edge, government agencies want to use video imagery from drone footage, sensor data, and other mission data sources to analyze, inference, and recognize potential threats in the form of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or spot potential danger zones to help warfighters and commanders make life and death decisions. This allows them to achieve mission objectives, so that they can quickly deploy solutions and save more lives. In the telecommunications space, telecommunication providers want to leverage this solution to build out customer premise equipment (CPE) at scale to deploy radio access networks (RAN). Cities want to leverage this solution to roll out smart city devices that can be used for traffic flow monitoring, automated license plate recognition, air quality tracking, monitoring illegal activity, optimized street lighting, identification of suspicious bags, and automated response to emergencies like chemical spills or gas plumes. This solution can be used in health care, manufacturing, aerospace, media and entertainment, retail, and other industries where there is a need to build or deliver turnkey edge solutions at scale.

ZTP for factory workflows

Red Hat’s ZTP for factory workflows solution focuses on powering edge workloads, wherein partners or customers deploy a relocatable OpenShift cluster on their preferred hardware to quickly and reliably bring up fully operational OpenShift clusters for edge, remote office/branch office (ROBO), disconnected, and air-gapped environments.

The solution is engineered for edge environments and takes into consideration minimal footprints, bandwidth constrained or air-gapped environments. The deployed cluster must address the following five priorities: 

  1. Be entirely self-sustaining and not dependent on other infrastructure
  2. Encrypt all data at rest and unlock easily for production use because the physical security of the system cannot be guaranteed
  3. Contain everything needed to operate the system, and optimizations should be made to ensure this is possible
  4. High availability and fault tolerance should be provided where it can be accomplished without compromising the preceding priorities
  5. Must be relocatable to allow for cluster mobility and easy reconfiguration at the edge


ZTP for factory workflows deploys and delivers OpenShift clusters in a hub-and-spoke architecture (see diagram below) using OpenShift GitOps deployment set of practices in combination with OpenShift Pipelines to build an unattended deployment workflow for OpenShift clusters at scale. In this solution, the factory (or hub) cluster is used to mass produce multiple relocatable edge (or spoke) clusters.

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Hub and spoke topology

To take advantage of this solution, the factory operator first deploys a factory OpenShift cluster in a factory or distribution facility. Then, the factory operator uses the factory cluster to deploy one or more turnkey edge (spoke) clusters on original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM) preferred hardware at scale. These edge clusters built at the factory are fully operational and relocatable. Once the edge cluster deployment has completed, it can be shipped to the end customer.  

Upon receiving the pre-configured OEM hardware with pre-installed OpenShift, the end customer unboxes it and configures a handful of settings much like they would a home router.  Since the edge cluster is relocatable, the cluster can be re-configured easily at the edge or any remote location. Alternatively, if the edge cluster is in a vehicle, such as a plane, a truck, or a ship, the edge cluster can connect using different gateways depending on where the vehicle is, or be completely disconnected if the ship is out at sea.

The process for factory production of turnkey edge solutions is depicted in the diagram below:

ZTP for factory workflows

The factory cluster can either be a compact cluster or a single node OpenShift (SNO) cluster in OpenShift 4.10. The factory cluster uses Red Hat Advanced Cluster Management (RHACM) to manage and deploy the edge clusters. In the initial implementation, each edge cluster is made up of three control plane nodes and one worker node, though the edge cluster can be configured according to your needs.

Get started

We have created a set of community scripts to help you get started. You will be able to set up a full environment for the ZTP for factory workflows by cloning and following the steps described in https://github.com/rh-ecosystem-edge/ztp-pipeline-relocatable

The scripts come in two parts:

  • Factory cluster deployment: The first part deploys a factory or hub cluster with OpenShift deployed with RHACM and OpenShift Data Foundation, along with pre-created volumes.
  • Edge cluster deployment: The second part rapidly deploys the relocatable edge or spoke clusters with OpenShift preinstalled on the preferred hardware in parallel. When the deployment completes, the edge cluster (with hardware) is shipped to the end customers, after which the end customers configure the edge clusters in minimal steps to have a fully operational OpenShift cluster.

Each step in the scripts is documented in the repository.

Summary

We shared how partners and customers can use the ZTP for factory workflows solution to build turnkey edge solutions for distributing fully operational and relocatable OpenShift clusters at scale for both connected and fully disconnected environments.

To learn more about ZTP for factory workflows, check out the following resources:

Please open an issue in GitHub with your comments or questions. Do not forget to check out OpenShift Blogs and OpenShift YouTube Channel for other exciting new OpenShift features.


About the authors

Ju Lim works on the core Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform for hybrid and multi-cloud environments to enable customers to run Red Hat OpenShift anywhere. Ju leads the product management teams responsible for installation, updates, provider integration, and cloud infrastructure.

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