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Streamlining edge site management with GitOps: Empowering manufacturers in the digital era

Streamlining edge site management with GitOps: Empowering manufacturers in the digital era

By Kangwarn Chinthammit, Director, Technology Product Manager, Software Defined Edge at Broadcom

Modern manufacturers want to adopt new technologies and applications to enhance productivity and efficiency, but they often face significant challenges in deploying, managing and updating their edge sites. A customer told me recently that it took more than 60 pages of documentation and a multiple-month process – plus the cost of a system integrator – to bring up a single new location. This certainly does not scale when you get to hundreds of locations! Fortunately, there’s a better way. Already proven successful in cloud management, GitOps is emerging as a powerful solution to streamline edge site management and enable manufacturers to stay ahead in the digital era.

Git is a version control system for software development that tracks changes in files and allows multiple people to collaborate on projects efficiently. GitOps is an operational framework that applies DevOps best practices to application and infrastructure automation. It takes advantage of features like version control, collaboration, compliance, and continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) to manage and automate infrastructure and application deployments. At its core, GitOps enables manufacturers to define and manage every aspect of their edge locations as code, ensuring consistent configurations and seamless application deployments across distributed sites.

Traditionally, managing edge sites in manufacturing has been a labor-intensive and error-prone process. The coupling of hardware and software often makes it difficult to introduce new applications or update existing ones. This results in lengthy deployment cycles, inconsistent configurations, and a high risk of human error. Moreover, the lack of version control and auditing capabilities makes it challenging to track changes, revert to previous states, and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

GitOps transforming edge site management

GitOps enables manufacturers to define the desired state of their infrastructure and applications in a version-controlled repository. This ensures uniformity across distributed edge environments, reducing configuration drift and maintaining a consistent operational framework.

Additionally, by using Git as a single source of truth for configuration and deployment manifests, manufacturers can easily track changes, revert to previous states, and collaborate effectively across distributed teams. This version control capability is crucial for managing edge deployments where updates may need to be rolled back quickly in case problems occur.

GitOps also relies on automation to synchronize the desired state defined in the Git repository with the actual state of the edge infrastructure and applications. A software agent continuously monitors the Git repository for changes and automatically applies them to the edge environment, reducing the need for manual intervention and minimizing human error.

With GitOps, every change to the edge infrastructure and applications is logged in the Git repository, providing a comprehensive audit trail. This audit trail is invaluable for compliance purposes, allowing manufacturers to demonstrate adherence to regulatory requirements and internal policies.

While new edge devices can be added to support new apps, new machines or new factories, the edge is harder to scale up. GitOps provides a scalable approach to managing these disparate environments by abstracting away the underlying complexity of provisioning and configuring edge resources. As the infrastructure changes, GitOps ensures that the desired state is maintained consistently across all instances. As a result, scaling the number of locations and setup of new edge sites becomes quicker, more consistent  and less error-prone.

Edge deployments are susceptible to network disruptions, hardware failures, and other unpredictable events. By defining the desired state of the infrastructure and applications declaratively, GitOps enables rapid recovery and resilience. In the event of a failure, the desired state can be re-applied to restore the system to a known good state automatically.

In the face of increasing digitalization and the need for agile edge site management, GitOps emerges as a game-changer. Instead of a labor-intensive and costly process, manufacturers can scale up or out and see results much more quickly and painlessly. As the manufacturing industry continues to embrace digital transformation, GitOps provides a robust framework to streamline edge site management and drive operational excellence.

About the author

Kangwarn is responsible for driving solution development and architecture for edge computing at VMware by Broadcom. He initially joined VMware through its acquisition of Cloud-Delivered SD-WAN leader, VeloCloud Networks, where he managed its World Wide SD-WAN Solution Architect and Systems Engineering. Prior to returning to VMware, Kangwarn took a role as Director of Systems Engineering at Pensando Systems (acquired by AMD), a startup who pioneers Data Processing Unit (DPU), working with some of the largest Cloud Providers and Enterprises to build and deploy services based on Pensando programmable DPU/SmartNIC technology.

Kangwarn has over 20 years of IT experience building and taking several new and innovative solutions to both Service Providers and Enterprises. He held various positions in engineering, products, marketing, and sales at technology companies including Cisco, FireEye, VeloCloud, VMware, and Pensando Systems. Kangwarn still keeps himself fairly hands on, keeping abreast of cool and new technologies and holding certifications such as CNCF Certified Kubernetes Administrator and Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert. Kangwarn holds a Master of Electrical Engineering from Cornell University.

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