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VMblog Expert Interview: Rob Hirschfeld of RackN Explains Edge Lab, How to Build it, and What it Means for Users

Interview RackN Hirschfeld 

RackN recently introduced Edge Lab, an affordable way to duplicate the data center API ops experience using Raspberry Pi. Edge Lab was architected to create a stable, consistent desktop data center in a cost-effective way. VMblog recently had an opportunity to catch up with Rob Hirschfeld, CEO and co-founder of RackN, to discuss what this means for users, who should check it out and how to leverage best practices while increasing tech skills and building tools while working from home. 

VMblog:  RackN can be the foundation for so many key technological innovations in the data center.  How did you come up with the idea for Edge Lab?

Rob Hirschfeld:  We were frustrated by the lack of a consistent platform for learning about edge and data center automation.  We created the Edge Lab as a project offering an open reference architecture that is part of the larger Digital Rebar operator community. It enables operators and users of personal labs who want to build, share and contribute to make this initiative even stronger.  Our hope is that it offers  a balance between getting running quickly and also having the transparent and open community components so users can build it quickly and THEN understand how it works. As part of the Digital Rebar community, your desktop cluster also shares lessons learned operating multinational banking, gaming, telco and hyperscale environments.

VMblog:  Can you explain a bit more about what is Edge Lab?

Hirschfeld:  A desktop data center that is an inexpensive truly multi-node environment to serve as a development platform for edge use cases. The design includes completely automated operation to practice the zero-touch remote operation and basic infrastructure as code (IaC) capabilities required for real environments. To make it even easier, we baked a one-click Kubernetes (k3s) cluster install into the default automation.  While we use RPi as a base reference, it is NOT RPi specific, and can be used with any ARM or x86 platform that Digital Rebar supports, so basically any commodity server.

VMblog:   And what would someone need to build Edge Lab?

Hirschfeld:  Instructions and a list of the requirements can be found at

It is a completely self-contained, on-desk environment made from four (4) Raspberry Pis.  Just like in our enterprise customers' data centers, Digital Rebar runs completely local and provides a gateway between the working cluster and your network - allowing Digital Rebar to  handle all the PXE and operating system installations for your cluster.  Since the system downloads Infrastructure-as-Code modules from the RackN open community catalog, no firewall rules or VPNs are required.  You can use the infrastructure APIs to completely automate platforms with TerraformAnsible or other tools.  Then you can also use the built in automation to quickly install Kubernetes (k3s) and OpenFaaS. 

For quick action, buy these items, follow these directions and/or watch the bootstrap video

rackn edgelab 

VMblog:  What are the best use cases for using and learning with Edge Lab?

Hirschfeld:  Since Kubernetes, Helm and OpenFaaS are pre-integrated, it's a natural environment to learning about container management solutions.  It takes about five minutes to completely reset the entire environment including Kubernetes .  That makes it a great way to iteratively learn new automation techniques.  Even better, this is a full scale Digital Rebar and anything you build against our API is 100% reusable.

VMblog:  What's next for Edge Lab?

Hirschfeld:  We'd like to see more of the Digital Rebar platforms validated against the Edge Lab.  Even in the K3s install, there are opportunities to add persistent volumes, load balancers and other features.  We're already seeing items from the Edge Lab, like the fully automatic bootstrap approach, migrate back into Digital Rebar too which is very cool.

For the complete details, visit 

The installation Process is literally a single command line command.

Published Thursday, June 11, 2020 7:32 AM by David Marshall
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RackN Digital Rebar v4.4 Delivers Secure Provisioning and Bare Metal Cloud : @VMblog - (Author's Link) - July 28, 2020 10:22 AM
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