Distributed computing is edging closer, and as it does, the companies specializing in edge computing are working to perfect their designs, build partnerships and raise money to finance their vision.
One of the startups targeting the edge opportunity is EdgeMicro, which this week said it has completed a $3 million round of funding to support its next phase of growth. The money will help the company move beyond the proof-of-concept stage and begin deploying data center modules in production.
“This is an important year for edge computing and EdgeMicro,” said Mike Hagan, CEO of EdgeMicro. “This new round of funding will allow us to accelerate our company and achieve our business’ critical milestones. We will keep our heads down, use resources wisely and help our customers turn their edge strategies into reality.”
Much of the buzz around edge computing centers around next-generation technologies like driverless cars, or 5G wireless, or augmented reality. These technologies could be transformative, but are early in their adoption. In the meantime, edge data center specialists are deploying pilot projects to prove out their designs, so they can move quickly when the business begins to scale. That includes EdgeMicro.
“There is a lot of smoke and mirrors in the edge market, but if you want to know what’s truly happening, we can look at our edge Micro Data Center POC in Denver,” said Martin Capurro, Vice President and General Manager of EdgeMicro. “Our team is working closely with partners and customers to test applications that are the last step toward large-scale edge deployments.”
Denver Pilot Preps for the Edge to Come
EdgeMicro’s initial $3 million round of funding provided the company with capital to build its team and create its first proof-of-concept micro data center (MDC) in Denver. The pilot project was deployed next to Flexential’s Englewood facility in South Denver, and features a partner lab to demonstrate the latency benefits of tethering far-edge data centers to near-edge data centers – tying together several of the layers of edge computing.
Companies participating in the pilot include content delivery specialists Akamai and StackPath, while the lab environment is supported by EdgeMicro partners including BitBox (Compass), Cisco, Fiber Mountain, Megaport and Flexential. The pilot projects are expected to be completed this month, followed by production deployment with clients by mid-year.
“The companies participating in this testing environment are a who’s who of the tech industry, including household names that are among the largest companies in the world,” said Loren Zweig, VP of Operations at EdgeMicro, who is overseeing the test lab. “Additionally, infrastructure companies are participating and playing a vital role in making edge connections and computing a reality.”
“So much of the industry discussion about the edge has been theoretical, as if it is only sketched on a napkin, but there is nothing hypothetical about these pilots.” Martin Capurro, EdgeMicro
The EdgeMicro project in Denver features a containerized 6-rack micro data center that supports 48kW of IT capacity, and can be built in a factory. Each EdgeMicro enclosure features biometric security, redundant power and cooling and fire suppression. The micro data center is undergoing SOC 1 and PCI compliance assessments.
“The biggest takeaways from this project aren’t the technical specs,” said Capurro. “The key is that these companies see the immediate value and are well down the path in development of their edge strategies. So much of the industry discussion about the edge has been theoretical, as if it is only sketched on a napkin, but there is nothing hypothetical about these pilots as we are hosting real-time content and traffic. They are a final step toward rollouts that will be stunning to many people both in terms of scale and the shape they take.”
A Vision for a New Edge
EdgeMicro was founded in 2017 by Hagan and Greg Pettine, who has worked with the data center teams at CB Richard Ellis and DCI Technologies. The company envisions a future in which thousands of small data centers provide multi-tenant colocation services at telecom towers and urban rooftops, bridging the infrastructure gap between data networks and the millions (and soon billions) of mobile devices at the edge.
The company’s target market includes mobile network operators (MNOs) creating 5G wireless infrastructure, and content providers delivering gaming and video to consumers.
“This is going to be a latency and consumer experience solution,” said Hagan. “To serve customers effectively, you have to address latency. We think the core solution is to move latency-sensitive applications as close to the consumer as possible.”
“Today the need is classic content delivery,” he added. “As the Internet of Things starts to deploy, we assume the latency expectations will be greater. Last year more searches took place on a mobile device than a land-based device. We’re about to hit a major inflection point.”
EdgeMicro’s model includes an Edge Traffic Exchange that allows traffic to move between networks at the edge, rather than being backhauled to a core data center (for more on this, see “Beyond Latency: How the Edge Could Transform Interconnection”).
“What we’re trying to do is remake the world,” said Josh Snowhorn, Chief Technology Officer of EdgeMicro, during a presentation at last year’s DataCloud conference. Our goal is microsecond latency within an individual market, and to become a ubiquitous, reliable platform. You’ll have thousands and thousands of containerized data centers, and see a lot of different businesses emerge.”
A Vision for a New Edge
The geography of this new world is evolving, as we have previously noted (See “The Evolution of Edge Computing: A Look at the Road Ahead”). For EdgeMicro, that has meant focusing more on fiber intersections in regional markets, rather than the base of telecom towers, as Pettine noted in a recent interview with Light Reading. Other players in the edge computing space, including Vapor IO, Compass EdgePoint, DartPoints and DataBank are also focusing on metros as early destinations for edge infrastructure.
That creates an opportunity for regional data center specialists like Flexential, which houses EdgeMicro’s Colorado micro data center.
“The pilot projects being conducted in this test lab are bringing together many of the smartest people in the edge industry to put their companies’ edge initiatives into action,” said Tim Parker, VP Network Strategy, at Flexential. “The companies involved in these tests have a bold vision for the edge that will reshape the way the internet works. The facility may be small, but the ambition is transformative. The concept of tethering these far edge data centers to near edge data centers such as Flexential is the future of edge computing. When these projects come out of the lab, the participating companies will be prepared to implement their edge computing strategies with confidence.”
“The concept of tethering these far edge data centers to near edge data centers such as Flexential is the future of edge computing.” Tim Parker, Flexential
As conjunction with its funding, EdgeMicro also announced that industry veteran Jason Bourg has joined the company as Vice President of Sales. Bourg brings to EdgeMicro more than 20 years of experience in the colocation and cloud market, holding past roles with CenturyLink, AT&T and Terremark.
“EdgeMicro is shaping the future of the internet, and you couldn’t ask for a better team of people to bring it to fruition,” said Bourg. “The culture here is laser-focused on delivering valuable solutions that help businesses succeed with speed, which is exactly what the edge industry needs, and I am excited to be part of this remarkable team.”