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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ocado releases open source smart factory software

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

The technology arm of a major online supermarket has released open source software to simplify data centre architectures for smart factories. 

The Kubermesh package uses container-based technology and the Kubernetes system to implement an on-premise private cloud architecture where desktop computers can be easily configured to become nodes that support the compute or storage functionality typically delivered by a high-performance server in a data centre.

"Kubermesh is an elegant and cost-efficient solution to running our highly-automated Customer Fulfillment Centres based on a distributed network of computing nodes spread around the warehouse rather than high-performance servers concentrated in one large data centre," said Chris Dabrowski, general manager of infrastructure, operations and site reliability engineering at Ocado Technology.

This has the potential to revolutionise the way companies approach on-site data centre architectures. Using open source software such as Kubernetes allows the automation team to quickly design a working prototype and develop it further based on advanced simulations of the future warehouse automation requirements. 

"We're very excited to continue unlocking the potential of container technology at Ocado and hope that the open source community uses Kubermesh in new and exciting ways," said Dabrowski

Kubermesh-based nodes are fault-tolerant, secure, flexible, and are designed to process the vast amounts of real-time data generated in smart factories such as automated warehouses. By distributing data center functionality in a mesh network of nodes, Kubermesh removes the need for a dedicated data centre and complex networking infrastructure, thus achieving significant energy savings and reducing the capital and operational expenditures associated with maintaining on-premise high-performance servers.

Ocado Technology is planning to use the same container technology and Kubernetes system to build an upcoming massive multiplayer online game (MMO) that teaches secondary school students the principles of artificial intelligence (AI). The open source game will be developed and promoted as part of the Code for Life initiative started by Ocado Technology volunteers to inspire the next generation of computer scientists.

There is more information about the Kubermesh project at the Ocado Technology blog and the project’s GitHub page.

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