Vapor IO recently announced its Vapor Edge for Telecom platform designed to operate as a micro data center located at a wireless base station.
Vapor IO is betting that mobile edge computing (MEC) is going to boom. MEC brings compute power out to the edge of networks, closer to mobile devices. But the concept of MEC then brings up the question: where exactly is the edge of the network?
Nurit Sprecher, chairman of the ETSI ISG MEC group, says MEC is “a distributed cloud.” She says the edge can be many places, including data centers, wireless base stations, small cells, hot spots, or even in routers and switches.
For its part, Vapor IO is targeting mobile operators and other landowners that own wireless base stations. It wants to partner with them to place its physical hardware for servers to sit in.
Today, the gear located at wireless base stations performs RAN functions. But there is no compute gear to do processing at the edge — which is the purpose of MEC.
“Mobile operators and landowners are in an ideal position to capitalize on the emerging need for low-latency edge-computing,” said Cole Crawford, CEO and founder of Vapor IO, in a prepared statement. “They own the key infrastructure, including tens of thousands of remote tower and base station locations with power and high bandwidth backhaul.”
Vapor IO’s technology includes a vapor chamber enclosure to house servers, along with software that runs Vapor IO’s own hardware plus telemetry capabilities that network operators can use to enhance their services.
Vapor Edge for Telecom is vendor agnostic as far as equipment. Its vapor chamber can accommodate any equipment that’s rack-mountable, whether commodity or proprietary.
Vapor IO’s system also includes software that transmits server and environmental sensor information and then provides real-time visualization and monitoring of all equipment in a Vapor Edge environment. And Vapor’s system works with scheduling systems, including Kubernetes, Mesos, and DC/OS to optimize and control workload placement using dynamic rules and policies.
“Vapor IO provides the infrastructure and telemetry so you don’t have to have manual intervention,” says Crawford. For telcos, “the value proposition is: we can deploy over and over again in identical footprints with identical hardware that puts you as close to the user as possible.
Vapor IO is about two years old. It raised $5 million in its Series A round and is in the process of closing a B round for which it didn’t want to disclose the amount. It’s focusing its first edge deployments in the United States, with international plans in the future.