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An Edge Vision for the Metaverse
By Vishal Ghariwala, CTO, APJ and Greater China at SUSE
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Having many hundreds of interconnected devices in what we now call edge environments is nothing new. In manufacturing and engineering facilities, PLCs (programmable logic controllers) have been attenuating and monitoring industrial devices since the invention of the microchip. What’s different now is that the concept of what will comprise a network node is changing rapidly, along with the number of interconnected devices.
Some form(s) of “the metaverse” and Web 3.0 will probably exist in a few years, like or loathe the idea. Where Web 2.0 primarily allowed users to interact with one another using the keyboard/touchpad, microphone and webcam/phone-cam, Web 3.0 will introduce new dimensions of interaction such as virtual and decentralised 3D worlds and experiences. This will also trigger an influx of new gadgets such as haptic gloves that will allow you to feel objects in the metaverse – all which will be made possible by edge devices and applications.
As we think about it now, the edge will be ubiquitous and likely be populated with thousands of devices. This raises new questions about managing and operating these devices in a consistent, reliable, and secure manner. After all, you wouldn’t want your haptic glove to misbehave in the metaverse or your autonomous vehicle sensors to be hijacked by malware.
Operating Systems for the edge
As more devices come online, their management and security will be front-of-mind for administrators. Separating system and application spaces is already gaining followers for immutable Linux operating systems – even in consumer devices. For small edge devices, similar methodologies will likely leverage containerised architectures. Operating Systems optimised for speed, security and immutability should provide the base for interoperable, platform-independent edge devices and applications.
SUSE Linux Enterprise Micro (SLE Micro) is an example of such an OS that is lightweight, secure, maintenance free and tailor-made for container-based edge workloads. It automates mundane but important management tasks for edge devices, such as updates, rollbacks, and recoveries. Its light footprint ensures that battery-operated devices can last longer. Developers can also quickly experiment and code on SLE Micro to build apps ranging from wearables to, smart cities, transportation, and many more.
Compute for the edge
Edge devices and applications will generate a significant amount of data that needs to be processed and analysed in real time to provide an optimal end-user experience. For example, field engineers can perform remote monitoring with digital twin virtualisation, by capturing and streaming live sensor data via AR-enabled glasses back to the main office and receive real-time remote guidance.
Thus, edge compute resources need to reside closer to where the edge devices are to meet low latency requirements. This could mean being close to your decentralised 3D worlds. The edge infrastructure also needs to be elastic, reliable and fault tolerant. Kubernetes is a sensible technology that scales well and is self-healing. SUSE Edge is an example of a certified lightweight and secure Kubernetes solution ideal for running at edge locations.
Secure code for the edge
One aspect of developing new generations of software that will be a part of some metaverse-like future is ensuring that developers’ code running on edge devices and compute infrastructures is secure. To do that, we must continuously scan our code for vulnerabilities, inspect traffic in real time for suspicious behaviour, protect sensitive data and automate security policies. SUSE NeuVector is one such cybersecurity platform that does all these and protects edge applications from development, through QA, and into production environments.
The Edge and the Metaverse have a symbiotic relationship. Each is enabling and strengthening the other to create new and mind-boggling possibilities. Key aspects of user experience such as low latency, automated maintenance, uninterrupted operation, and security will underpin their success and mainstream adoption. We will require new approaches around deploying data centers, and maintaining, managing, and securing software. Technology partners such as SUSE provide innovative open-source solutions to satisfy such edge computing requirements.
Vishal Ghariwala is the Chief Technology Officer for the APJ and Greater China regions for SUSE, a global leader in true opensource solutions. In this capacity, he engages with customer and partner executives across the region, and is responsible for growing SUSE’s mindshare by being the executive technical voice to the market, press, and analysts. He also has a global charter with the SUSE Office of the CTO to assess relevant industry, market and technology trends and identify opportunities aligned with the company’s strategy.
Prior to joining SUSE, Vishal was the Director for Cloud Native Applications at Red Hat where he led a team of senior technologists responsible for driving the growth and adoption of the Red Hat OpenShift, API Management, Integration and Business Automation portfolios across the Asia Pacific region.
Vishal has over 20 years of experience in the Software industry and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.