Written by Tapio Tallgren, Technical Leader at Nokia Mobile Networks, Community Sub-Committee Chair of Akraino TSC,Ferenc Szekely, Program Manager, SUSE, Committer of Micro MEC blueprint of Akraino TSC and Tina Tsou, Enterprise Architect, Arm, Akraino TSC Co-Chair
The MicroMEC platform started life as a platform to run applications at the very edge of the network, like in a light pole. We joined the LF Edge’s Akraino project from the very beginning.
To find out what the use cases would be first, we participated in the IoThon hackathon in 2019 where we built a miniature city with sensors, cameras and small servers — also known as Raspberry Pis. Our plan was that we will provide APIs to enable developers to access the sensors, cameras, or other independent hardware devices attached to our small servers, ie. the MicroMEC nodes. It was clear that we wanted to deploy all the APIs as well as the apps in containers. We needed a tool like Kubernetes to help us build and manage the MicroMEC cluster. As we targeted “small” devices, with max 4GB of RAM -at that time- and low power consumption we looked into alternatives to k8s. That is how we picked k3s.
By the autumn of 2019 we had our lab running Raspberry Pi 3B+ and 4B nodes with k3s. We had a successful hackathon – Junction 2019 – in Finland where the teams presented solutions utilizing the MicroMEC cluster. We also added OpenFaaS Cloud (OFC) into the mix and a developer UI to the platform. This allowed developers to write serverless applications for the MicroMEC cluster and deploy them with ease. They could concentrate on their core business: developing apps while MicroMEC with OFC took away the burden of cluster management, deployment etc.
Right after Junction, we were at the Akraino 5G MEC Hackathon in the USA. For this event MicroMEC had to become more “MEC”. This implied the implementation of MEC-11 interfaces and the UI to manage those apps that our MEC-11 implementation made discoverable for customers near the MicroMEC cluster. The MEC cluster runs on Arm architecture based hardware.
With all this activity, we missed the first two Akraino releases, but now we are very happy to join the Akraino R3 release! For this, we had to figure out what is the easiest way to install the stack on the device with a MMC card. The easiest way is to not install anything on the fragile card, but boot the stack from a network server. Eventually we made all MicroMEC nodes to boot from a network server using PXE and the storage of each node was attached via iscsi. This requires a fast enough LAN, but thankfully cheap gigabit switches are widely available these days.
Learn more about Akraino here.