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Enhancing Tactical Edge Capabilities: Insights from Brandon Gulla, CTO

In a recent webinar, Brandon Gulla, Chief Technology Officer at Rancher Government Solutions (RGS), alongside Dominic Perez from Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions, offered a deep dive into the world of cloud capabilities at the tactical edge. Hosted by Signal Media, this discussion was a masterclass in enhancing the effectiveness of military and emergency operations in challenging environments. 

Delivering Cloud Capabilities to the Tactical Edge

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With his extensive expertise and forward-thinking vision, Brandon Gulla shared his perspective on the complexities and need of implementing cloud technology where it matters most – in the thick of the action. He highlights four primary challenges organizations encounter as they adopt edge infrastructure and provides a valuable framework for understanding and overcoming these obstacles.  

Overcoming Tactical Edge Challenges 

Scale and Efficiency 
In environments where traditional application teams often struggle, Kubernetes emerges as a key player. However, Gulla points out that while Kubernetes offers a new way to unlock efficiencies, it also presents unique scaling challenges that require careful management.  

In response, Gulla introduces Rancher Multi Cluster Manager, a unified control platform enhancing efficiency and security in challenging environments. This solution, flexible across various platforms like AWS to Azure, addresses the scaling challenges head-on, paving the way for adaptable and scalable cloud deployment strategies vital for military and emergency operations.  

Security in Unpredictable Environments
At the tactical edge, where operations extend beyond secure data centers into potentially hostile terrains, security is paramount. Here, Gulla emphasizes the need for a holistic security-first approach, spanning from supply chain to in-transit data vulnerabilities.  

RGS developed two key tools to tackle this challenge: Rancher Government Carbide and NeuVector. These tools represent a commitment to enhanced security, tailored for government cloud deployments, and ensuring compliance with the highest security standards with Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) STIGs. This comprehensive approach is essential in environments where the usual security perimeters do not exist, and the risks are inherently higher.  

Adapting to Speed Variations
Gulla acknowledges the criticality of adapting to speed variations and communication challenges in remote or mobile military operations. He highlights RGS’s K3s, a streamlined Kubernetes distribution, as an ideal solution for maintaining operational efficiency in low-connectivity scenarios, “K3s is meant to run on something as small as a Raspberry Pi or something as big as a data center.” K3s, designed for its small footprint and agility, is ideal for tactical edge scenarios, allowing applications to progress even with minimal comms capabilities.  

Reliability and Repeatability
Unlike traditional data centers, the edge often involves operating in conditions where stability and consistent performance cannot be taken for granted. Planning for these scenarios is not just an afterthought but a foundational aspect of designing edge computing solutions. In this scenario, Gulla highlights Harvester, RGS’ hyper-converged infrastructure stack, designed to enable resilient data management under challenging conditions.  

“Harvester allows you to take existing hardware and run Kubernetes with elastic computing,” he explains, emphasizing its capability to provide high availability and resilience in challenging conditions. Harvester provides the same technical architecture and enablement that organizations depend on from hyper scalers and public clouds, but on their own hardware.  

A Non-Prescriptive Approach to Tactical Edge Solutions 
Gulla concludes by emphasizing RGS’s mission to offer holistic, non-prescriptive solutions in tactical edge computing. These tailored solutions ensure technology enhances rather than hinders operational success. For organizations and agencies aiming to leverage cloud computing in tactical edge environments, Gulla’s insights present a compelling pathway. RGS’s work in this space is not just about technological advancements; it’s about empowering missions to succeed under the most challenging conditions.  

For a comprehensive view of how Rancher Government Solutions is transforming tactical edge computing under Brandon Gulla’s leadership, view the full webinar here. 

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