Last week I was introduced to Avassa. As the presentation started I had no idea what their solution did. By the end of the presentation, I wanted to know more about how it worked and my mind was racing with the deployment options that I see from it, both for our existing clients as well as future clients.
The Avassa solution is designed to assist you in pushing docker images to the edge devices that on running within your environment. The demonstration that Avassa delivered at Tech Field Day 24 really drove home just how powerful their solution was. In their demo (which was probably 90% of their presentation) they had a fictitious movie theater company that had 100 theaters all over the world. Each theater had a small docker environment that was used to run the backend software that was needed to run the movie theater. Using the Avassa software they were able to deploy new images to all 100 theaters within seconds with just a few mouse clicks. Upgrading those docker images to a new version was just as simple. You simply tell the solution that there’s a new image available on GitLab and the solution downloads the image and pushes the image to all the edge devices.
The beauty of this solution is that network connectivity to the edge site doesn’t need to be stable. In the event that the network is unstable, the Avassa solution downloads the image and deployed the image once it’s been downloaded. So if the edge isn’t on the internet for days, weeks, or months, the command to upgrade that edge node will be processed as soon as it is back online. When I heard this I immediately thought of use-cases in fields such as oil and gas where you have oil rigs in the middle of the ocean and they aren’t always able to be connected to the Internet due to weather or satellite uplink issues, or the shipping/cruise industry where you’ve got ships that aren’t in their home port for weeks or months and we want to be able to push software changes to the ships as soon as they get internet access back.
Even edge devices that are always connected such as studios that have spin classes, retail operations, etc. could take advantage of this by lowering the time needed to deploy software to all the retail locations. When retail locations need to do a software upgrade, they will either have someone from the head office handling the upgrade through a remote desktop solution or if they need physical hands on a keyboard they will have a local IT partner that can put hands on a keyboard. However, either of these solutions is cost-free. But being able to push docker images to all the stores either in a rolling fashion or at scale that cost goes to next to nothing.
The ability to be able to quickly and easily push changes to the edge devices has always been a problem with environments which large numbers of edge devices. As the number of edge devices increases the management headaches which are involved with upgrading software increase.
If you’re in an environment with edge devices, I highly recommend checking out the videos from Avassa’s presentation at Tech Field Day 24. During the session, we pointed out some things to the Avassa team that we’d love to see improved in their UI, and the Avassa team’s response was basically “yes we know, it’s already in planning for a later release” which tells me that they are going in the right direction for sure, and I personally can’t wait to see what their team is able to do with their solution as it gets more mature.