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VMblog's Expert Interviews: Vapor IO Talks Vapor Edge, "True Edge Cloud," and Project Volutus

interview-vaporio-volutus 

One of the really interesting companies that I've been following in Austin, TX is a company called Vapor IO.  Vapor IO provides integrated hardware and software solutions to hybrid and edge clouds, offering a true intelligence platform for modern data center workloads.  

To find out the latest, I spoke with Cole Crawford, the company's founder and CEO.

VMblog:  You recently announced Project Volutus, which follows the launch of Vapor Edge.  Could you tell us a bit about Project Volutus and your vision for it?

Cole Crawford:  With Project Volutus we're deploying edge computing deep into the urban infrastructure, building micro data centers literally at the base of cell towers and integrating them into the wireless infrastructure and tying it all back to centralized clouds. This edge infrastructure will support new applications, such as autonomous vehicles and augmented reality, which require cloud workloads that run at the very edge of the network where they can be near the data and devices they support. 

Project Volutus could potentially be the world's largest network of distributed edge data centers. It utilizes Vapor IO's patented Vapor Chamber and also uses Vapor IO's open source OpenDCRE software for remote management and monitoring. We've partnered with companies like Crown Castle, the nation's largest provider of shared wireless infrastructure, to roll this out. We've also assembled a strong list of initial partners that includes Intel, Flex, Packet and the Open19 Foundation and we're starting to roll out Project Volutus to three major cities this year, and more next year.

VMblog:  How did Vapor IO develop Project Volutus?

Crawford:  At Vapor IO we have been focused on building a suite of hardware and software capabilities that we call Vapor Edge. Vapor Edge is an end-to-end platform for deploying and operating highly-distributed micro data centers embedded in the urban infrastructure, including wireless infrastructure where it can be colocated with the Radio Access Network (RAN). Project Volutus emerged from conversations we had with Crown Castle, a $40B real estate investment trust that owns 40,000 cell towers and over 60,000 miles of metro fiber. Together with Crown we realized that the deployment of edge computing could be greatly accelerated by pairing our intellectual property-hardware designs, software designs, and patents-with the immense footprint of today's owners of wireless infrastructure.

By placing Vapor Edge in strategic edge locations with Project Volutus, we can directly cross-connect to the wireless networks, thereby pushing true cloud capabilities to within yards of the end device or application, a mere one hop from the network edge. By building facilities that can run cloud workloads, we're accelerating the delivery of emerging edge applications including IoT, autonomous driving, decentralized machine learning, AR/VR and 5G wireless.

VMblog:  Vapor defines Project Volutus as a "true edge cloud" and differentiates that from device-based edge computing.  Can you elaborate on how this solution is different than others on the market?

Crawford:  The "edge" is not one thing. It's actually a gradient that extends from the physical devices in the field all the way to the centralized data center that might be hundreds or thousands of miles away, and it encompasses all of the compute, storage and networking in between.

vaporio-edge 

A lot of the recent excitement around edge computing has focused on edge devices, driven by Microsoft's announcement of Azure IoT Edge and Amazon's announcement of AWS Greengrass. While these offerings are powerful and operate in conjunction with their respective public cloud provider services, they are not true cloud computing. They make it possible to run limited compute workloads, like stream analytics and serverless functions, on the edge but those functions are not running in the cloud-they are running on devices that customers purchase.

A true edge cloud has a few interesting attributes that are key in pushing the industry forward. First and foremost, workloads must run at the physical edge, adjacent to the devices and end users, on machines that are provisioned using cloud services and directly cross-connected to the wireless network. Secondly, all of the expected attributes of a centralized cloud must exist in the edge location, including on-demand scalability and breadth of services. Lastly, a true edge cloud must have a direct connection to regional and centralized data centers, as well as to the internet at large.

A true edge cloud exists in conjunction with new edge devices. It augments today's centralized cloud, providing a new a tier of service that supports cloud services at the edge of the network in a fast and seamless way.

VMblog:  What industries do you see benefiting the most from Project Volutus?

Crawford:  It's versatile. Our initial target customers are large cloud providers, wireless carriers and web-scale companies. These organizations want to build out an edge presence and can benefit from shared infrastructure that we deploy with our partners.

We see a lot of demand for edge computing coming from the wireless carriers themselves. They need cloud capabilities to support the virtualization of their networks. For example, we're working with Intel and their FlexRAN technology to help carriers deliver new applications and services based on virtualized RAN and the Multi-Access Edge Computing standard. Project Volutus is also essential to emerging IoT applications, where customers want to do data ingestion and analysis on the edge, such as, applying a machine learning algorithm in an edge location for the fastest possible decision-making. Finally, we're also seeing demand from new applications and services that can only be delivered at scale with edge computing, including as autonomous vehicles and mobile mixed-reality headsets.

VMblog:  You recently announced Don Duet, former Goldman Sachs executive, has joined the Vapor IO team.  What role will he play in the company's future?

Crawford:  We are absolutely thrilled that Don decided to join the Vapor IO team. He ran global infrastructure at Goldman Sachs and has a deep understanding of how data centers function. You might not realize this, but the financial services industry is one of today's largest users of edge computing, albeit in a highly-specialized form, to support high speed trading and real-time decision-making. Don will be helping Vapor IO bring edge capabilities to a broad range of customers and use cases. Don's background and experience makes him ideal to help lead this next phase of Vapor IO's growth, and he will play a key role in expanding Project Volutus. Together, we will introduce an entirely new way to approach cloud computing at the edge.

VMblog:  What else can we expect to see from Vapor IO in the coming months?

Crawford:  The industry is moving fast, and we are too. The most exciting thing we're working on now is rolling out the first deployments of Project Volutus in three U.S. cities. As Project Volutus goes live, we'll be able to share details and production use cases with our partners. In the meantime, via our Voluts.io website, we're accepting applications from potential partners and customers who want to join our Early Access program and participate in these initial deployments.

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Published Wednesday, August 16, 2017 7:31 AM by David Marshall
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