Wind River this week announced it has added support for Docker container images and Kubernetes container orchestration software for its Wind River Linux operating system that is employed on a variety of embedded systems.
To achieve that goal, Wind River has embedded Open Container Initiative (OCI)-compatible container technology, dubbed OverC, within its operating systems that is lighter-weight than Docker containers, which are widely used in traditional IT environments. Wind River also has leveraged the open source Yocto Project, which makes it easier to create custom instances of Linux that can run on any hardware platform.
Michel Genard, vice president of product for Wind River, says the company has been waiting to see which container orchestration platform would dominate before deciding to commit to Kubernetes. As part of that effort, the company will also commit to a range of complementary technologies being developed under the auspices of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).
Genard notes that as applications deployed on embedded systems become more varied in the age of the internet of things (IoT), organizations are making it clear they want to be able to embrace multiple types of abstraction on top of the operating system they deploy on a system. Those abstraction layers consist of everything from containers running on a bare-metal platform to full instances of OpenStack, he says, adding the decision regarding which platform to employ often comes to down to how large the physical compute resources available are and the level of application workload isolation required.
In general, Genard says many organizations may not realize how complex building, for example, a distributed IoT spanning multiple embedded systems can be. Too many organizations today have been able to create an IoT application as a proof-of-concept. However, deploying and maintaining that application across a global networking environment represents a major challenge. Many organizations also are still trying to determine to what degree those projects will be managed by operational technology (OT) teams reporting into lines of business, versus IT teams that typically report into a CIO.
Regardless of who winds up controlling the budget for these projects, Genard says Wind River is committed to proving educational resources to enable organizations to build those applications using best DevOps practices across multiple layers of abstraction. Unlike IT environments, an IoT environment is likely to consist of a broad range of hardware platforms based on any number of types of processors from Intel, Arm and even NVIDIA.
Once those IoT applications start to be deployed, there may come a day when there will be more containers running in OT environments than there are in traditional IT environments. That, of course, will create a whole other set of container management and security challenges that will need to be addressed. In the meantime, much of the current IoT focus remains on when and where to employ containers to build a new generation of highly distributed applications that have the potential to transform almost every business process they touch.