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Microsoft Unveils Kubernetes Tool Akri for Working with Edge Devices

Microsoft announced a new open source tool called Akri for helping Kubernetes find and work with edge devices, such as sensors, controllers and microcontroller units (MCUs).

These components, called heterogeneous leaf devices, can range from IP cameras to USB devices. They are integral to "edge" computing -- which seeks to bring processing resources to outerlying devices -- but can be too small to run Kubernetes themselves.

Thus Akri was created to help the container orchestration system Kubernetes find and use edge devices. In a clever bit of name marketing, Microsoft says Akri, the Greek work for "edge," can also be used as an acronym for "A Kubernetes Resource Interface for the edge."

Akri
[Click on image for larger view.] Akri (source: Microsoft).

"Akri is Kubernetes-native," Microsoft said in an Oct. 20 blog post announcing the new offering. "Its architecture is made up of four key Kubernetes components: two custom resources (CRDs), a device plugin implementation, and a custom controller. The first custom resource, the Akri Configuration, is where 'you name it,' telling Akri the kind of leaf device you want to discover. Then, 'Akri finds it,' as the Akri Agent -- a Kubernetes device plugin framework implementation -- searches for the leaf devices, checking for the availability of your desired ones.

"Once your device has been discovered, the Akri Controller 'helps you use it.' It sees each Akri Instance, which represents a leaf device, and deploys a 'broker' pod that knows how to connect to the leaf device and utilize it."

Because edge devices can be too small to run Kubernetes, Akri relies upon different discovery protocols to locate and work with different classes of devices.

Currently Akri supports two protocols, ONVIF for IP cameras and udev for discovering things in the Linux file system. The project's roadmap is asking the developer community to help prioritize what other protocols to support, such as Bluetooth and many others.

"The more protocols Akri can support, the wider an array of leaf devices Akri can discover," Microsoft said.

Community developers wishing to help with additional protocol support or other development for Akri can find the project on GitHub. Also available are an end-to-end demo for video devices and documentation including:

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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