Vapor IO is taking control of its edge-based data center colocation technology that had previously been handled by cell tower giant Crown Castle. The move is part of a number of updates from Vapor IO, which includes the closing of a Series C funding round and SDN-based updates to its product portfolio.
Cole Crawford, founder and CEO of Vapor IO, said the company has now taken over the management and deployment of colocation services that Crown Castle previously had deployment control over as part of their Project Volutus joint venture. Those efforts will now be rolled into Vapor IO’s Kinetic Edge platform.
Project Volutus was launched last year as part of an investment by Crown Castle into Vapor IO. Crown Castle handled the physical deployment plans that were centered on its real estate and networking assets, while Vapor IO handled the service management.
Crawford said the platform would continue to use assets from Crown Castle, including tower real estate and metro fiber, but Vapor IO will now handle all of the commercial aspects of the service. He explained this would simplify contract negotiations as customers would now just deal with Vapor IO and not both companies. Vapor IO is also not tied to strictly using physical assets from Crown Castle and can tap into other interconnection sources if needed.
Vapor IO launched the Kinetic Edge platform late last year. It combines multiple micro-data centers to create software-controlled virtual ones. They are designed to span an entire city and deliver cloud computing to the edge of the last-mile network. It was initially placed under Project Volutus but is now the headliner.
SDN and NFV for ‘No Ops’
In addition to gaining branding superiority, the Kinetic Edge platform gained a number of updates. Crawford said one of the most important was greater use of SDN and NFV to provide “no ops” peering support.
Crawford explained that today’s model of accomplishing peering inside of the data center will not scale for edge deployments.
“In an internet exchange you have a data center technician that enters the data center hall and physically cross connects one port to the other port. And companies charge for this today,” Crawford said. “At the edge with thousands of locations you have a need for doing this with SDN and NFV. Vapor is the only company that we know of that is actively building SDN and NFV peering capabilities into our offering.”
Customers can now send in their peering requests to Vapor IO, which can in turn initiate those requests instantly without needing to send anyone to a physical location.
That peering support also taps Vapor IO’s re-architected Synse open source telemetry system. Synse is an updated version of Vapor IO’s open source Open Data Center Runtime Environment (Open DCRE) software stack. Crawford said that Synse is now completely “pluggable and modular” and ships with a software development kit (SDK).
Crown Castle was also part of Vapor IO’s Series C funding round that was led by private equity firm Berkshire Partners. Like past funding rounds, Vapor is not releasing the amount of funding raised, but Crawford did say that Crown Castle “doubled down on us,” and hinted that the total funding was at least in the neighborhood of $50 million.
“You don’t get Crown Castle and Berkshire Partners in the same room if you are not looking to put meaningful funding to work,” Crawford said. He did indicate that Crown Castle’s portion was tied to the assets Vapor IO was tapping into as part of the former Project Volutus venture.
In terms of its deployment plans, Crawford said the company currently has deployed and is operating two Kinetic Edge “chambers” in Chicago. A third is in production, and it’s in the middle of pre-planning for a fourth and fifth unit. It plans to have 13 locations under “active development” by the end of this year, including multiple cities with multiple locations. Chicago has been the only publicly announced market.
Crawford in March stated that the Chicago market was live and that there were customers using the network. He noted then that the company planned to deploy 27 more sites by year-end. “We’re building out quickly,” he said.