Spotlight on Tech

New partnership with Google Cloud enables stateful applications to run on edge servers

Partha Seetala
President, Cloud Business Unit
Rakuten Symphony
August 18, 2023
minute read

I have talked about “distributed stateful edge” to describe what I think is the next big breakthrough in edge computing use cases. And, thanks to a partnership between Rakuten Symphony and Google Cloud, customers now have a cloud-native platform that can support stateful applications, such as those that depend on databases, message queues and AI/ML pipelines.

Containerization abstracts the underlying infrastructure. It has proven to be very useful for stateless applications, making it easy to deploy, scale, upgrade and manage the lifecycle of such applications. But stateful applications are different. They require access to persistent storage and hook into specialized hardware features such as accelerators to maximize performance. Since storage has gravity, it brings complexity to manage applications that depend on data in a cloud-native environment.

Persistent storage is made up of storage volumes that are not virtualized but remain available beyond the life of individual containers. This way, stateful applications, such as databases, always have access to that storage.

A breakthrough in the distributed stateful edge

Working as partners, Rakuten Symphony Symcloud (formerly and Google Cloud have made a breakthrough in the distributed stateful edge by delivering a cloud-native platform that includes persistent storage needed to support stateful applications.

This partnership with Google Cloud enables a revolution in how cloud computing is carried out at the edge. Many large retailers and organizations with large branch office operations have spent the last decade converting their branch office applications to the cloud, however, the  need for edge computing is becoming more relevant as instantaneous decisions need to be taken based on location, footprint, etc. The Symcloud and Google Cloud solution offers edge computing capabilities to meet the desired outcome. Consolidation of multiple legacy applications is happening, and Google Distributed Cloud Edge (GDC Edge) will have the (Anthos) Kubernetes platform to run these workloads and Symcloud software will be the underlying storage.

Now they can bring those cloud applications closer to their stores where they serve customers, keeping all the benefits of cloud-native applications without the cost of cloud services and the latency involved with transporting data to cloud data centers.

This solution will also help other companies that have built out their stateful edge networks using bare metal servers and are looking for a container-based solution that can deliver the zero-touch management and automation functionality that comes with cloud native servers.

In a two-year development project, Rakuten Symphony and Google Cloud have integrated the Symcloud Storage software-defined storage [SDS] platform into the Google GDC Edge to deliver the first cloud native container platform with persistent storage. We not only wanted our Symcloud SDS functionality to work in the Google GDC Edge environment, we wanted it to look and act like it is part of GDC Edge stack and scale.

Symcloud Storage for Kubernetes

Symcloud Storage is part of the Rakuten Symphony Symcloud product family and is a persistent storage offering for Kubernetes that is easy to deploy and manage at scale. Symcloud Storage creates an application-aware storage and data management stack. It is designed to provide grouping of storage volumes and applications into a single logical entity.

Symcloud Storage supports data persistency for stateful apps, always-on availability with self-healing, and advanced data placement for stateful apps. For ongoing data management, users have access to data snapshots, clones, back-ups, business continuity features, multi-cloud portability and other services.

Google Distributed Cloud Edge container orchestration

Google Distributed Cloud Edge is an end to end (HW and SW) container orchestration and management service for Kubernetes container-based deployments. GDC Edge allows organizations to run modern apps consistently at scale.

The platform is designed to modernize on-premises and edge infrastructure by managing Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) clusters and workloads running on virtual machines across environments for a consistent managed Kubernetes experience.

The platform simplifies the application stack, reduces the costs associated with licensing a hypervisor, and decreases time spent learning new skills.

Tight integration for simplicity and scalability

With this partnership, Rakuten Symphony continues to establish its role as an important, persistent storage component for GDC Edge deployments.

Symcloud Storage is tightly integrated with GDC Edge – to the extent that both products feel and operate like one piece of software. This makes it easy to deploy the platform and to scale it. Installation and upgrading processes are validated by Google Cloud.

The solution is pre-engineered, pre-validated and is sold through Google Cloud Marketplace as a single, integrated product. We have a joint team from both companies that are working closely on developing next-generation features so that they too will feel integrated and whole.

Support for Google Cloud AI

An advantage of this solution is that Google Distributed Cloud Edge supports artificial intelligence (AI) to provide applications with advanced capabilities such as predicting sales or operations, allowing for more precise inventory management to reduce waste, optimizing staffing and others. Retail stores can also use AI to display promotions customized to a customer’s demographics. Enterprises can also use this solution for building private cellular networks or providing the compute needed for autonomous inventory systems or other manufacturing digital optimizations.


Since our announcement, we’ve had a lot of conversations with customers who now have new ideas about how they can build a stateful edge applications. One major theme for retailers is leveraging the powerful onsite server to provide personalized customer experiences.

We’ll be demonstrating this solution at Google Cloud Next '23 conference from August 29-31 in San Francisco. I am looking forward to the new conversations that will be initiated by our presence at that show and invite you to visit us.

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