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Vapor IO Dials Up Edge Computing Hotline to Amazon's AWS

Mike Dano
4/24/2019
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Edge computing startup Vapor IO is now touting a new, direct connection between its edge computing services and Amazon's cloud offerings. The company said that hotline -- enabled in part by Crown Castle's fiber network -- would help reduce network latency by essentially drawing a straight fiber line from Vapor IO's edge computing data centers to Amazon's cloud computing data centers.

In that respect, Vapor's announcement with Crown Castle and Amazon is kind of like the "red phone" installed between the United States and Russia in the 1960s, during the height of the Cold War. Although it was never actually red, the direct connection between the two countries was developed shortly after the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis in order to eliminate the hours it took to transmit official diplomatic messages between the two countries. The result was a direct connection between the leaders of the United States and Russia so they could immediately get ahold of each other in emergencies.

In the same way, Vapor IO's CEO Cole Crawford explained that the connection between Vapor IO's edge computing data centers and Amazon's cloud services will work like a hotline for developers, ensuring that there's a speedy path between Vapor's localized computing services and Amazon's centralized cloud computing services.

Interestingly, startup Network Next voiced support for Vapor IO's new AWS connection in the company's release. "Our customers run a massive number of game servers on AWS and we work with them to improve performance for mobile clients," Glenn Fiedler, CEO of Network Next, said in Vapor IO's press release. "As gaming companies increasingly look to bring high-speed multiplayer games like Fortnite to mobile platforms, our sophisticated edge processing connects players back to AWS in the most optimal fashion, giving a true edge-to-core experience."

Network Next recently raised $4.4 million in seed money to help speed up online gaming services. The company works with video game creators, content delivery networks like Limelight and others to reduce network latency in online games.

That cell tower company Crown Castle is one of Vapor IO's fiber suppliers isn't surprising. Crown Castle has spent billions of dollars over the past few years to acquire around 60,000 miles of fiber, and it is one of Vapor IO's major investors. Indeed, Vapor IO is also using Crown Castle's real estate holdings to build some of its initial edge computing locations in Chicago and elsewhere. Vapor IO has pledged to build mini edge computing data centers in up to 20 US cities by 2020.

(However, it's worth noting that Vapor's Crawford said that the company will use other fiber providers like Zayo where necessary in order to build a network of direct connections between its edge computing locations and Amazon's AWS data centers.)

On the Amazon AWS side of the equation, Vapor said it will use the AWS Direct Connect service that Amazon has developed for its AWS cloud services. AWS Direct Connect is essentially a private connection that Amazon's AWS customers can purchase from their location to Amazon's cloud services. It stands as an alternative to routing traffic to Amazon's AWS over a public Internet connection.

Although Vapor IO's routing announcement with Amazon and Crown Castle represents a relatively minor, iterative move by the company, it nonetheless reflects both the edge computing opportunity as well as the market's complexity. Edge computing promises to reshape the centralized nature of the Internet's architecture by moving computing functions from a few massive data centers and into many more smaller data centers that are physically located closer to users. However, for that shift to happen, paths must be created among existing, centralized data centers, edge data centers and actual users.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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