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Neil Cresswell, CEOFebruary 7, 20223 min read

Portainer CE 2.11.1 is here and edge computing will never be the same again.

Please note that this blog is now out of date. For a full list of Portainer's current features and functionality please go to our Portainer Features page

Every day an unfathomable amount of data is created at the edge of the network, much of it transient, but all of it created for a reason. As data is created, it generally needs processing for it to become valuable. With the sheer quantity of data now in play, it is increasingly uneconomical to transfer it from the edge into the datacenter for processing, which is driving the exponential growth of edge computing.

As an example, take a series of surveillance cameras deployed in a city; if you want to look for a crime, you could either send all the feedback to a central location for processing, or you can run the AI engine on or near the camera, where the feed can be processed locally (and then discarded), with only “action” intel being transported back to the operator. Processing at the edge massively reduces the amount of data in motion and can dramatically speed up business processes.  

Having simplistic devices at the edge that run single-purpose applications and send their data to a central processor is a simple setup. You just need a way to centrally control the device and somewhere to receive the data. However, if you want to move up the value chain you are likely going to want to run multiple applications, be able to update the applications, and have sufficient processing power for the application to do what is needed. In effect, you need the edge devices to operate as minicomputers.....

But how do you securely manage 20,000 minicomputers that are all connected to the public internet from a central location? There are so many examples of common IoT devices on the market today (home surveillance as an example) that are easily compromised. To operate at scale, security of remote device management must be a key consideration.

At Portainer, we see the edge as super important, and we foresee a future where managing massively distributed applications/containers running at the edge is as easy as running containers in the datacentre/cloud. It should be possible for anyone to do it, from anywhere without the need for a PHD. Managing edge-based devices, however, comes with a truly unique set of engineering challenges that have led us to build some truly remarkable tech we’re very proud of.

2.11.1 builds on the existing edge functionality embedded in Portainer. However, rather than building on top, it builds underneath – delivering unique capability that allows devices running at the edge to be FULLY managed.

This release addresses the 2 key weaknesses associated with edge devices

  • Today’s Intel architectures make it impossible to install an OS onto a device without physically connecting to it. This is hugely limiting from an operational standpoint as it requires devices to be physically handled to be upgraded.
  • Once a device is in the field it’s impossible to ‘remote’ into the device to triage issues and resolve issues, particularly when the device is offline.

These two factors have proven operationally limiting and have limited the rollout of edge devices due simply to the physical cost of managing the software running on the devices.

Portainer 2.11.1 changes all that. It allows users of Portainer to:

  • Zero-Touch device onboarding to install an OS directly onto a remote machine (first install and upgrade)
  • Power on and restart a remote machine anywhere in the world, even if the device is off
  • Remotely access the devices KVM from within Portainer
  • Shut a remote device down remotely

And, of course, users of 2.11 can continue to leverage all the existing edge functionality in Portainer to remotely start/stop containers, install images etc etc etc. Portainer now provides a complete end-to-end, soup to nuts management solution for remote devices – something that up to now simply has not been possible.

Up to 20,000 edge devices can be connected to a single instance of Portainer which makes it suitable for use in everything from smart grids to industrial plant management situations.

See the functionality in action here:

If you’d like to see Portainer in action or you’ve got a use case you’d like to explore with us, please get in touch.


Neil Cresswell, CEO

Neil brings more than twenty years’ experience in advanced technology including virtualization, storage and containerization.


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