Aiming to Fly Higher, Open Infrastructure Foundation Announces New StarlingX Features

By Arti Loftus June 04, 2021

StarlingX wants to be the wind beneath the wings of carriers and enterprises as the adoption of IoT and Industrial IoT connected systems continues to grow and is expected to be fueled by the increased availability of 5G communications services (making autonomous control systems and other advanced edge solutions faster and more flexible).

The Open Infrastructure Foundation (OIF) announced the release of StarlingX 5.0, with new features they say enhances security, operability, and automation.

StarlingX combines Ceph, OpenStack, Kubernetes, and more as part of its cloud software stack the company says and can scale from "a few servers or hundreds of them."

"It's been exciting to see the tremendous increase in StarlingX community activity, not only in terms of commercial adoptions and evaluations but also with respect to investments in the project by many different organizations and individual contributors," said Paul Miller, chief technology officer at Wind River and OIF Platinum Director.

"We're also seeing now, as a result of early market adoption of this open-source stack, the use of StarlingX in edge computing and industrial IoT solutions," Miller continued. "With market research indicating that about 70% of compute will be moving towards the edge over the next five years or so, we foresee continued strong adoption and investment in StarlingX community activity. As an original contributor to the code base and a strong supporter of the project, we are encouraged to see business being driven by StarlingX. The kind of ecosystem development we're seeing around StarlingX is exactly what you want to see in a thriving open source community."

New features in StarlingX 5.0 include:

  • edgeworker nodes, which enable customized operating systems near and at the edge
  • security enhancements
  • improvements to orchestration and automation
  • upgrades to and containerization of integrated open source components

The OIF announcement cited T-Systems and Verizon as current users of StarlingX-based technology for edge and production vRAN use cases and said a growing number of organizations are also evaluating the project for production deployment.

To further support the low-latency and distributed cloud requirements of edge computing and industrial IoT use cases, the community prioritized these features in StarlingX 5.0:

  • Support for 'edgeworker' nodes, a new personality distinguished from 'worker' nodes. Edgeworker nodes are usually deployed close to an edge device, such as an I/O device, a camera, a servo motor, or a sensor, to manage host-based enrollment. The 'edgeworker' personality is particularly suitable when users want a lightweight approach, deploying only a few agents on the nodes. With edgeworker nodes, users can enroll in new operating systems and new server classes, which expands the possibility for new StarlingX use cases.
  • Support for Nvidia GPUs, enabling operators to do additional offload for those particular workloads that require GPU interacting, such as machine learning or other image-based processing.
  • Support for FPGA image update orchestration. FPGA and acceleration are important features of edge systems. The new FPGA image update orchestration feature in StarlingX 5.0 improves operations, supporting automation across the distributed cluster. This gives users the option to deploy FPGA with orchestrations that are automated from end to end.
  • A PTP notification feature to further extend StarlingX's support of Precision Time Protocol. Operators can now receive notifications about the PTP state and take action in case the system time is no longer in sync with the PTP clock source, which is critical for time-sensitive applications.
  • Vault integration for secret management, a security-focused feature. Users want the ability to store and access secrets securely. These secrets can include credentials, encryption keys, API tokens, and other data that should not be stored in plain text on a system. Vault, an open-source project, provides the ability to encrypt and store secrets with access control via a range of authorization and access policy configurations. Vault's features include dynamic secret generation, data encryption, leasing and renewal, revocation, and audit/logging. The integration of Vault improves StarlingX's security posture and encryption capabilities while maintaining manageability.

 Other additions to the new version include:

  • Improvements to certification management to enhance automation
  • Containerized Ceph storage by using Rook
  • Support for Net-SNMP v3 for the fault management service
  • CephFS for cluster storage
  • Container Image Signature Validation

The StarlingX project launched in 2018. Since then, there have been more than 10,000 commits from over 260 authors. Today's 5.0 release added 1100 commits from 105 developers to those total numbers. The StarlingX community is actively collaborating with several other groups such as the OpenInfra Edge Computing Group, ONAP, Akraino, and more.

Arti Loftus is an experienced Information Technology specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the research, writing, and editing industry with many published articles under her belt.

Edited by Luke Bellos

Special Correspondent

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