EdgeMicro late last week began live testing of edge computing pilot projects in a micro data center adjacent to Flexential’s facility in Denver, the company said.
Edge computing is a pivotal element as the cloud and virtualization grow near the real-time requirements that make it impossible to traffic between where data will be used and distant data centers. EdgeMicro says these proof-of-concept tests are the last step before deployment. The company expects to complete the tests by mid-March and rollout the projects by the middle of the year.
The companies helping with the testing are “a who’s who of the tech industry,” said Loren Zweig, vice president of operations at EdgeMicro. In addition to EdgeMicro and IT service management firm Flexential, companies involved in the testing are Akamai, StackPath, BitBox, Cisco, Fiber Mountain, and Megaport. Companies undergoing the testing did not want their names released, he said.
Zweig reports that edge computing shows signs of going beyond its initial mandate. “When we first announced this test lab, my assumption was that most of the testing would be for data and content caching at the edge, to move content and services closer to consumers in order to reduce latency,” he wrote in an email. “After all, that’s been discussed for a while as a major driver for edge computing. Yes, that is part of what is being tested, but it has been fascinating seeing a lot of the testing focused on unburdening core data centers and creating more redundancy in networks. Edge data centers are going to be about more than just lowering latency. They are going to play a major role in the way that companies design and operate their overall data center infrastructure optimizing traffic flows.”
EdgeMicro’s Denver micro data center provides 48kW of uninterruptible power in a 6-server rack configuration. It has dual 100 gig connectivity connections and direct access to nearby fiber installations. It is undergoing SOC 1 and PCI compliance assessments, the company said.
EdgeMicro, according to StackPath Chairman and CEO Lance Crosby, provides “mini Internet exchanges” in secondary markets. These exchanges reduce backhaul requirements to Tier 1 data centers that otherwise are necessary. The Denver testing is a step in the creation of this topology.
“We are testing the deployment of our platform and services in EdgeMicro’s container data center,” he wrote in response to emailed questions from SDxCentral. “This location is directly connected to one of the first 5G deployments in North America. We are testing latency, jitter, reliability, and speed of the initial 5G networks.”
Elements being tested are StackPath’s compute platform — which is serverless and based on containers and virtual machines (VMs) — and its monitoring service. StackPath also is testing its content delivery network, web application firewall (WAF), domain name system (DNS), and distributed denial of service (DDoS), and server monitoring services.
It is clear that the applications that networks will be called upon to support necessitate an edge strategy. The tricky thing is that the industry has not yet quite settled on what the edge is. At the end of the day, it will depend on use cases and other factors.
The goal is to see how edge assets fit into the network. “One of the reasons that these companies wanted a true live testing environment – with real-world traffic, rather than canned testing – was that they want to study and optimize how edge facilities and applications will work,” Zweig wrote. “They don’t see an edge facility as ‘that thing way out on the edge’ that is doing non-critical work. They see it as an expansion and extension of their networks and fixed data center facilities. For that reason, connectivity has been a key discussion topic as we worked with customers. We worked with Flexential and MegaPort to use 100 gig fiber connections to give customers the throughput they were looking for to take these applications for a robust test drive.”
Two other edge computing vendors are Vapor IO and Packet. Both made news with cell tower firms late last year. In November, Packet deployed an edge data center at an SBA cell tower in Foxborough, Massachusetts. And in September, Vapor IO assumed control of edge-based data center colocation technology that had been overseen by Crown Castle.