Following his departure as CTO of data center giant Equinix last October, Ihab Tarazi spent six months as an entrepreneur in residence at Sutter Hill Ventures studying edge computing. Tarazi emerged from his period of research this month as the CTO of bare metal cloud startup Packet.
During his stint at Sutter Hill, Tarazi said he wanted to understand what edge compute meant, who the players were, and overall what was happening in the edge market.
“I ended up talking to hundreds of startups and to many more VCs, and it ended up there was not only a huge cultural math with Packet but a lot of excitement,” said Tarazi. “I definitely think that what Packet does with their edge approach is unique, and I think it has enormous potential, and that is why I joined them.”
Tarazi says Packet is ahead of the curve on building both software and hardware to enable the future edge infrastructure. His (and Packet’s) new phase will be about how infrastructure is moving to a cloud-native model. “This cloud transformation that started in data centers is making its move all the way to the edge and to the network, and it’s going to enable a lot of new capabilities,” he explained.
Packet’s main product has been a cloud native platform that integrates with key operating systems including open sourced ones. And while a number of players have built a software-based cloud native platform, Tarazi says the unique thing about Packet is that it’s going to give enterprises an option to choose hardware at the locations they want. Also, its software is both programmable and automated.
Tazari hopes that Packet’s edge model will be in play by 2019.
Giving enterprise customers a choice of hardware gives them “more control over their end-to-end architecture,” Tarazi said. Not only will this prepare customers for edge computing, but it will help in the deployment of an IoT platform or 5G components. Essentially, Packet is building its bare metal infrastructure in a way that it can be consumed in a similar manner to public cloud services.
While there’s plenty of hype surrounding the edge, there still hasn’t been a clear definition of what the edge will mean. Packet, and a number of other companies, recently published a report detailing the edge’s impact, it’s future disruptions, and four principles that define it.
Tazari hopes that under his leadership Packet will continue to contribute to defining the edge. Looking to the future, he said that it will continue to innovate servers, CPU, and hardware associated with the edge. Packet has a number of hardware partners its working with on this — namely with Arm, Intel, and AMD — and plans to expand these and start more.
Second, Tazari teased that this year Packet will make its service available in a number of cell towers to enable new players in the edge compute space. This particularly, he said will make it “easier to see what the edge is in my view.” It will also continue to strategically team up with data centers.
Packet is also continuing its work on a bare metal product for 5G and IoT in tandem with large telco providers. “There’s a tremendous amount of movement in the edge, also in IoT and 5G, and big changes in hardware and you deploy it,” he said. “So a lot of stuff we’ve been talking about for a while. Pieces of it are deployed, available, all the pieces of the supply chain, the components are starting to shape up.”
Additionally, the startup will continue and build on its support of open source models. Packet has been integrating open source platforms into its product so that its seamless for customers when installed. What’s new is its work with open source hardware — namely Open19, which was started by LinkedIn — and work with the Open Compute Project (OCP) through Open19.
“We’re going to continue to support open source platforms, software, and hardware and then provide people the choice and automate it and then team up with real estate providers like data centers and cell towers to make it available to them.”
Prior to joining Packet, Tazari was the CTO and executive vice president of Equinix where he oversaw engineering and operations for its interconnection platforms and cloud, security, IoT, storage, and edge platforms. He also served as the VP of engineering and technology at Verizon.