BARCELONA, Spain — Bare metal cloud startup Packet, in partnership with Vapor IO, said two new edge sites in Chicago are now live. The Chicago sites, along with a site separately deployed in Massachusetts, are the first of 15 locations the company will launch this year. It’s part of Packet’s plan to deploy edge locations at the base of cell towers, in commercial buildings, in malls — essentially everywhere.
“This is the digitization of real estate,” said Packet CEO Zachary Smith in an interview at MWC Barcelona. “Technology is going to get infused in all aspects of real estate, whether a tower or a mall or an office.”
The Chicago sites are also the first two Kinetic Edge Alliance (KEA) locations. Vapor IO, in partnership with 11 other hardware, software, networking, and integration company partners launched the KEA earlier this month. The new group plans to bring edge computing to 30 metro markets in the U.S., and go live in six of these markets this year. It builds on Vapor IO’s Kinetic Edge architecture, which uses software-defined interconnection and high-speed networking to combine multiple micro-data centers into a single, virtual facility.
Edge Access Program
Packet also this week announced a new Edge Access Program to provide commercial and open source users with free access to its bare metal edge computing servers in Vapor IO’s Kinetic Edge locations. The goal is to allow program participants to build and trial edge applications targeting both cloud native and telco deployments quickly and most cost effectively, said Packet CTO Ihab Tarazi.
“Most of these people are trying to experiment with what is the use case for the edge, and most of them don’t know how to leverage this cloud-native model,” he explained. “The end game is that every one of them will find the use case that works for enterprise customers and then start to gain market share and traction. Once they are successful and comfortable using out platform and they start to sell it to enterprises, then we know how to duplicate the model for them everywhere we deploy.”
Initial program participants are Catchpoint, DNSFilter, Federated Wireless, Fly.io, Hatch, Macrometa, MobiledgeX, Mutable, Nodeweaver, OpenNebula, Ori, Oort, Rafay Systems, Section.io, Travelping, VMware, and Volterra.
While Packet has more recently been moving into edge computing, it’s best known for its developer-friendly cloud, which is available in 30 global locations, and three of these are edge-specific. About 15,000 people use its platform, and 800 of these are enterprise customers, Smith said. Sprint is one Packet’s largest customers and is working with the startup to build its 5G network.
New Edge Sites
The company’s focus on flexible bare metal automation and carrier-grade networking make it well positioned for edge computing, Smith said. “We’re building these edge data centers the same way we build software: we build a 0.1 beta release, change, update, release again, release again. And that’s what we are doing with our edge model, too — we’re getting it out there fast.”
The company deployed its first edge site near Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The two new Chicago locations are Wrigley Hub, a tower-connected site located about a mile from Wrigley Field and close to densely populated areas of north Chicago, and Edens Hub, which is also a tower-connected site near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
While the new Edge Access Program is free to join, Packet does ask participants to be transparent with their use cases “so people can really see what enterprises are doing instead of just guessing,” Smith said.
And use cases coming out of the Massachusetts site are different than those in Chicago. Some are even venue specific, Tarazi said: “It’s really cloud where you want it to be.”