Research Note

October 2021 KubeCon 2021: Cloud Native Computing Spreads to the Edge & Down to the Hardware Level

October 2021


LightCounting releases a research note highlighting key takeaways from the KubeCon + Cloud Native North America 2021 conference Software joins hardware on the ride to the edge KubeCon + Cloud Native North America 2021, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s (part of the Linux Foundation) flagship conference, was a hybrid event this year which took place October 11-15, 2021, both online and on-site at the Los Angeles Convention Center within the L.A. Live section of downtown; most participants attended virtually although official attendance data has not been released. Last year’s event was originally slated for Boston, MA but changed to fully virtual and had roughly 16K attendees; the 2019 event was conducted in-person in San Diego, CA and consisted of ~12K attendees. The conference’s main attendees consisted of developers, end users, and vendors from open source and cloud native communities around the world. The foundation focuses on key cloud technologies like software containers (Kubernetes), service meshes, microservices, immutable infrastructure, and application programming interfaces (APIs). Its main objectives include driving adoption of open source and vendor-neutral application projects, democratizing cloud native innovations, and sustaining a strong ecosystem. There were several announcements made during this year’s conference, the two most notable pertained to open-source software (OSS) and open hardware. What does this all mean for the optical networking market? As more IT infrastructure gets distributed at the edge closer to end users, will this lead to less traffic going to metro and long-haul networks? We already see that data traffic in long-haul is growing at lower rates compared to metro and access networks, so most of the traffic is already local. However, it is hard to imagine that the long-haul networks become obsolete. Despite the trade barriers and political tensions, the world is very inter-connected. Global, multi-national companies are still growing fast. People are eager to start traveling again as COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted. The most likely outcome for more innovation at the network is more traffic for the rest of the infrastructure as well. Some of the tasks can be completed at the edge, but innovation is likely to create new applications that will need access to remote cloud services or end users on the other side of the world. The bottom line: it is all good. The last thing we want to do is to discourage innovation. With all the activity at the network edge, it is not surprising to see strong demand in the global FTTx market now. We got used to speaking mostly about FTTx in China, but it is truly global this year. Service providers in North America and Europe accelerated 10G PON deployments in 2021. LightCounting will publish its Market Forecast Report next week, including the latest data on the global FTTx market, DWDM and several other applications of optical connectivity. LightCounting subscribers can access the full text of this research note by logging into their online accounts.


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