Vapor IO Introduces Colo On The Edge

Vapor IO, a startup that's developed small, portable data centers for running applications on the edge of networks, is preparing to introduce the first co-location service for such environments later this summer.

The company, based in Austin, Tex., will initially roll out Project Volutus in two cities. Through the initiative Vapor IO will lease rack space in its hardware-agnostic computing pods installed at the base of cellular towers and integrated with wireless infrastructure.

Those compact data centers will deliver carrier-neutral compute environments where customers can cross-connect between telecommunications operators and cloud data centers, said Vapor IO founder and CEO Cole Crawford.

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Modern applications increasingly demand edge computing in densely populated areas. Autonomous cars, smart cities, virtual and augmented reality, industrial Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, 5G networks and network functions virtualization are all technologies reliant on the ability to connect to servers with little latency for rapid data transfer.

"In the cloud of the future, IoT and machine data, autonomous driving and drone data, will drive a paradigm shift for how we collect, analyze and store data," Crawford told CRN.

Many types of customers are interested in operating servers located in self-contained environments, from hyper-scale cloud providers, to enterprises, to the telco operators themselves, he said.

Buying into that vision is Crown Castle—the country's largest owner of cell phone towers and wireless infrastructure has made a minority investment in Vapor IO, Crawford told CRN.

Vapor IO also announced Wednesday that Don Duet, a board member of the Open Compute Project and former global head of technology at Goldman Sachs, will serve as the company's new president and chief operating officer.

Cole hopes to see Project Volutus eventually offer "a massive, decentralized data center footprint" with tens of thousands of sites hosting the company's proprietary Vapor Chamber hardware and running its open source OpenDCRE software.

The Vapor Chamber is an energy-efficient server rack that comes in a circular enclosure, a form-factor Crawford believes is best-suited for edge installations. And the OpenDCRE platform is unique in its ability to give applications information about how the underlying infrastructure is operating.

"We think we're doing nothing less than creating a new type of cloud," he said.