Vapor IO Focuses on Network Edge as Internet Enters Third Act

All eyes are focused on the network edge as wireless data takes on an increasingly important role in all facets of life – from communications to industrial applications to smart cities to autonomous vehicles. Pushing intelligence and functionality traditionally housed at the center of the network out to the edge allows data to live and be processed closer to the devices that need it, providing crucial lower latencies and better flexibility. These edge capabilities become a platform upon which to deploy Network Function Virtualization by the carriers as well as to support a variety of applications including augmented reality, virtual reality and autonomous vehicles.

Vapor IO is addressing this shift to the edge, which it refers to as the Third Act of the Internet, with a fully integrated hardware and software platform that provides edge colocation, exchange and networking services. Founded by industry veterans with deep expertise in edge computing, high-performance networks, data centers and infrastructure management, Vapor IO has built its Kinetic Edge platform and Kinetic Edge Exchange to address a fundamental re-architecting of how data is created, processed and routed.

The Kinetic Edge Exchange works with traditional internet exchanges to allow networks to exchange data in real time without that data having to leave the metropolitan area. Any traffic that is destined for off-edge locations is routed to the closest internet exchange. The exchange uses edge colocation and API-based edge networking to enable redundant low latency and low-cost service.

Kinetic Edge Colocation is supported in high-performance, climate-controlled edge data centers that support standard server and network infrastructure equipment. No equipment hardening or custom form factors are required. The colocation platform uses software and the Kinetic Edge Fabric—a combination of physical fiber networks across a city and software-defined controls—to manage the routing and transport of data across the “middle mile” between the access edge and the regional data centers or IX points. The Kinetic Edge Fabric also serves to combine multiple micro data centers into a single virtual data center. For developers and operators, this presents as a collection of geographically dispersed micro data centers operating as if they were in a single facility, offering multiple distributed, networked availability zones.

The company recently raised a total of $90 million in Series C funding to build out its Kinetic Edge platform in 36 U.S. markets by the end of 2021. The platform is already live in Chicago, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Dallas, with 16 multi-site cities planned for launch this year.

Each Kinetic Edge City has multiple micro data centers arranged in a ring, spaced in 10-20 kilometer increments. The data center nodes are then meshed together with high-speed fiber for load balancing, transport, resilience and workload migration. Sites are chosen through a rigorous process that includes evaluation of nearby population density, access to metro fiber connectivity, proximity to wireless network towers, power stability and redundancy, and local noise regulations and siting ordinances.

With the use of multiple data centers in a region, software-driven failover and workload migration can guarantee up to 12 nines of reliability, and multiple layers of security are provided by both physical and logical separation of tenants in the same facility. Each Kinetic Edge data center is remotely operable and is continuously monitored via hundreds of sensors generating thousands of real-time data points, aggregating environmental data for monitoring, troubleshooting and situational awareness.

For 5G networks, the Kinetic Edge platform provides microsecond-scale fronthaul connectivity between towers and small cell sites hosting 5G radio equipment and micro data centers hosting both virtualized radio access networks and 5G core networks.

“One of the most difficult aspects of designing, deploying and operating a virtualized 5G network is supporting the stringent fronthaul latency and bandwidth requirements that this architecture imposes. Many 5GNR radio units generate 20 Gbps of traffic with latency needs below 100 μs,” the company says on its website. “To make this virtualized RAN practical, the 5G network operator requires dense edge data center colocation sites within 10-15 km of their radio unit sites, connected together with a high-speed fiber network that provides the necessary performance, reliability and flexibility. Through the Kinetic Edge Fabric and the Kinetic Edge data center sites distributed across each metropolitan area, the Kinetic Edge solves this challenge for the 5G network operator. Now both virtualized BBU as well as 5GC data and control plane functions can operate right at the edge.”

Vapor IO and Crown Castle announced a jointly developed service last year that connects Vapor IO’s Kinetic Edge platform with Amazon Web Services (AWS) via Crown’s high-speed Cloud Connect solution. The partnership allows customers to build edge applications that interconnect with AWS over Crown’s operator-grade fiber optic network.