Vapor IO and Packet are partnering to offer 5G-capable infrastructure for edge locations using a pay-as-you-go pricing model. The platform is targeted as a way for service providers to more cost effectively manage multi-access edge computing (MEC) deployments.
Vapor IO is tasked with overseeing the physical facilities, operating the lit fiber networking, and providing real-time infrastructure management. Packet will operate the compute service through an “on-demand” model that can be accessed through its portal, API, or through integration platforms like Terraform and Ansible.
Customers tapping into the service can pay for access to the network on an hourly basis or garner discounts based on longer-term needs.
Vapor IO CEO Cole Crawford said the offering would help operators better optimize their spending. At the recent Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, Spain, Crawford said he viewed the costs associated with uncorking MEC capabilities as the biggest bottleneck holding up deployments.
“Today it’s the capex and opex costs of how traffic moves that is the challenge,” said Crawford. “In five years when there will be 50 billion connected devices and everyone streaming 8K video services, there will literally not be enough glass in the ground to support that amount of traffic.”
A recent Accenture MEC report echoed similar cost concerns, though they were tied to more traditional deployment models.
“One of the most important points to consider when creating the MEC is that it is not economically feasible to place huge servers at every base station, which means that the computational capacity at the base station will also be limited,” Accenture noted in the report. “Ultimately, it is impossible to completely replace big data centers with the MEC; but the boundaries between the MEC and big data centers do need to be softened, meaning that not only does computing hardware need to be deployed at the edge of the network, but also that the whole network needs to become more ‘intelligent.'”
Vapor IO and Packet are looking to get past some of those concerns through infrastructure sharing and the new pricing scheme.
The on-demand service will launch initially in Chicago, which has been a market focus for Vapor IO. Crawford late last year said the company’s first Chicago site was operational with a second site set to come online by the end of last year.
The on-demand service will be deployed to Vapor IO’s recently launched Kinetic Edge platform. That edge data center product combines multiple micro-data centers to create virtual ones. These software-controlled virtual data centers can span an entire city and deliver cloud computing to the edge of the last-mile network.
Packet makes a bare metal server technology that automates physical servers and networks and provides on-demand compute and connectivity. The company received a $9.4 million investment from SoftBank in 2016. Last year, it announced edge compute services in 11 locations, including Chicago.
Packet CEO Zachary Smith had previously stated that some edge compute initiatives, including those from Vapor IO that look to open micro-data centers at the base of a cell tower, are not as practical for developers because developers don’t just want access to a particular carrier on a certain tower but to all operators. “Edge compute will be finite, and it will have limits. Multi-tenants make it hard to predict,” Smith said.
Project Volutus Integration
The new offering will also be part of Vapor IO’s ongoing edge data-center-as-a-platform business dubbed Project Volutus. That project uses Vapor IO’s software that is based on OpenDCRE, an open source telemetry system for remote monitoring.
Project Volutus combines edge colocation with remote operations, intelligent cross connects to wireless networks, and direct fiber routes to regional data centers and peering interconnects. It also uses Vapor IO’s vapor chamber enclosure to house servers and software that transmits server and environmental sensor information, and then provides real-time visualization and monitoring of all equipment in a Vapor Edge environment.
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