Edge computing is all about knitting together a growing universe of devices and applications. Colocation provider EdgeConneX has been on the front edge of this trend, working with a range of stakeholders to enable distributed computing.
“We continue to see cloud content going further and deeper,” said Randy Brouckman, the CEO of EdgeConneX, “This is wave three of the edge. This is going beyond the on-ramps and moving to specialized instances of cloud.”
This week EdgeConneX announced a multi-site deployment for one of those new cloud providers. Ori Industries will deploy its global edge cloud platform at EdgeConneX facilities in Amsterdam, Munich and Warsaw.
The companies say the partnership will adddress common challenges developers face when deploying compute, storage and network resources across different providers, a critical requirement with apps for the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, gaming and other edge-dependent services in Europe.
“The next generation of cloud is driven by collaboration,” says Mahdi Yahya, CEO at Ori Industries. “But a gap currently exists between the needs of IT developers and the business models of MNOs (mobile network operators) and other telecommunications companies. Our technology merges the two, creating an ecosystem that gives infrastructure providers the necessary tools to transform their footprint into distributed edge-clouds, instantly ready to power applications in a fast, flexible and intelligent way.”
Yahya said working with EdgeConneX allows Ori to “help a growing number of developers build the exciting latency-sensitive applications of tomorrow.”
Reducing Friction for Edge Deployments
In our 2020 Forecast we predicted that “the economics of edge computing will come into sharp relief in 2020. End users and investors will focus on near-term cost/benefit analyses rather than long-term potential.”
Ori is keenly focused on this challenge, using software to tie together disparate networks – which could involve ISPs, data centers, telcos and smart cities infrastructure – and manage and orchestrate these networks so developers can deploy workloads seamlessly across them. The Ori Global Edge allows participating networks to define how they offer resources, and simplify how developers can use these platforms.
“Developers need the ability to dictate where their edge is and simplify workload deployment among distributed locations,” says Dick Theunissen, Managing Director for EMEA at EdgeConneX. “That’s exactly what Ori’s deployment in our data centers enables and how EdgeConneX can empower the edge for cloud service providers. Developers in Amsterdam, Munich and Warsaw can locally access Ori’s platform with the services in our edge data centers.”
The Next Evolution of Edge Application
EdgeConneX sees this as the third wave of edge deployments. The first wave involved the growth of “over the top” (OTT) streaming video from Netflix and other new content services. The second wave was the mainstreaming of cloud services.
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“Each of these new technologies creates tons of data and bottlenecks at the edge,” said Phillip Marangella, Chief Marketing Officer of EdgeConneX. “This is what we mean when we say we are now seeing the next wave of edge computing, and are architecting the edge.”
The Internet was not constructed to handle the traffic flows of today, Marangella says, and will get more congested in the coming months and years. He provided a deeper dive into these trends in a recent Voices of the Industry column on key trends for 2020.
EdgeConneX was an early player in edge computing, and was distinctive in its attention to evolving workloads and their requirements. The company built data centers at key network “pain points,” designed to handle high-density racks and operate without on-site staff. That vision has positioned EdgeConneX as an experienced hand in a young ecosystem, where the customers range from startups to tech giants.
In a recent discussion at the Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC20) conference in Honolulu, Brouckman and Marangella outlined how EdgeConneX is building its platform to address these trends.
“There’s so much data being generated at the edge,” said Marangella. “We’re a brick and mortar CDN. Since we established that edge platform, it allows us to bring cloud to the edge.”
Growing Along with Content and Cloud
In its early days, EdgeConneX helped cable companies extend their networks to cell towers and office buildings. Then came Netflix and the surge in OTT traffic, which stressed the networks of cable operators and telecoms. The solution was a national network of edge data centers that could cache video content locally, easing the traffic burden on network operators.
EdgeConneX built 24 data centers in about 18 months, extending large-scale content distribution to second-tier markets across the U.S. and Europe. Each facility was a 2- to 4-megawatt data center with about 10,000 square feet of space, with an anchor tenant that was usually a cable multi-system operator (MSO) like Comcast, which is an investor in EdgeConneX.
EdgeConneX has continued to grow in some of these regional markets, including Atlanta, Toronto, Miami, Denver, Portland and Phoenix. “You’ll see us to continue to grow and fill out the second and third builds in those type of markets,” Marangella said. “We’re pretty well established in the States.
“We’re also seeing a ton of demand in Europe and South America,” he added. “With GDPR, there’s so much demand in Europe. We’re also going to have some dots on the map in South America. It’s just not good enough to serve it from Miami and Dallas.”
In recent years, EdgeConneX has begun working with hyperscale providers, building large data center campuses in Amsterdam, Dublin and Chicago.
“We love that we have this inertia,” said Marangella. “Form factor doesn’t matter to us. We’re building for the customer, and have the ability to span the entire spectrum. We’re starting to do cable landing stations, and we do hyperscale data centers where we’ll have 100 megawatts.”
Cloud Gaming as a Growth Vector
The company’s data centers are designed as “lights out” unmanned facilities, using sophisticated monitoring and remote hands for maintenance. “These things have to be unmanned to be economic to be economically viable,” said Marangella. “That’s where EdgeOS comes in.”
EdgeConneX use its EdgeOS data center operating system to monitor and manage its facilities, with more than 500,000 sensors used in the company’s data centers, monitored every 15 milliseconds. Facilities are managed from a central network operations center in Santa Clara, with remote hands support when on-site maintenance is required. The company has the ability to remotely control the generators and UPS systems at each data center.
In addition to Ori, EdgeConneX has worked to deploy networks focused on the Internet of Things, and network specialists providing cloud on-ramps. In 2020, the company sees growth opportunities in cloud gaming, where a new breed of platforms are seeking to deliver content to a latency-sensitive audience.
“Latency is a big deal for multiplayer gaming,” said Marangella. “They do not want to have the network impact their business.”
“Gaming is getting bigger,” said Brouckman. “The technology can now happen in the cloud, and you couldn’t say that a few years ago. Gaming also features lots of power density.”
The market for distributed computing is expanding, and Brouckman believes that may be the case for a while.
“It’s not even early innings,” he said. “It’s very early, and very active.”