Startup creates small footprint data center plus new monitoring system to enable automated movement of workloads.

March 10, 2015

3 Min Read
Vapor Pushes Data Centers to the Edge

A new data center startup company has designed technology that more easily creates data centers at the edge of the network, including colocation points and central offices but also strip malls and oil rigs. Vapor IO, which emerged from stealth mode today, replaces racks of metal server cabinets on raised floors with the Vapor Chamber, a "hyper-collapsed data center," that builds on other elements it is creating, including a new way of monitoring operating environments and workloads. (See Vapor Launches Distributed Data Center Modules.)

Founded by Cole Crawford, its CEO and also a co-founder of OpenStack and the Open Compute Project, Vapor IO is clearly part of the drive to push data centers to the edge of the network, to store content and applications much closer to those who actually use them. The idea is to create the technology that can run in these distributed locations but also the ability to monitor them, head to toe, and move workloads around on an automated basis, to the most efficient location.

As Crawford tells Light Reading, the traditional hyper scale data center environment, with its racks of servers and environmental controls, may suit some cloud applications -- particularly those for the enterprise. But there is a burgeoning set of cloud-based apps that reach consumers in their cars, in their homes and on-the-move which would be better served by more distributed data centers.

"That's why we were inspired to create the Vapor Chamber which takes up a very small amount of space -- it's nine feet in diameter, and it's a 150-kilowatt cloud which is a pretty dense cloud," he says in an interview. "It can sit in a reclaimed Blockbuster or RadioShack in an urban environment and lives happily at one to three megawatts at a time."

Stay up-to-date on data center strategies in the data center connectivity section right here on Light Reading.

One of the foundational elements that Vapor is introducing is called Open Data Center Runtime Environment (Open DCRE), and this is being contributed to the Open Compute Project. Open DCRE allows the creation of simple, inexpensive sensors that can monitor the data center environment from the operating system up, to include the workload. Vapor uses this capability to enable its Core Operating Runtime Environment, or Core, which is capable of running across legacy environments as well as those based on Open Compute.

The idea is to use analytics to automate the process of deciding where a workload should run, based on the current environment and factors such as power costs, congestion and outages, Crawford says.

"Humans aren't that great about managing things like outages and upgrades," he notes. By creating a process that drives the critical information about performance, cost of kilowatt hours, availability and cost of public cloud infrastructure such as Amazon Web Services and Azure and other factors into the workload itself, Vapor intends to "let the workload move itself around without human intervention," Crawford says.

Ultimately policies such as data storage regulations and government compliance rules can also be factored into this kind of system, he says.

Vapor IO has selected Jabil as its strategic manufacturing and supply chain partner. The company’s initial press release says it already has contracts across multiple industries, with the first announced deployment in Union Station Technology Center in South Bend, Ind.

Crawford tells Light Reading that Vapor is in discussion with players in the telecom space as well and sees colocation points and central offices as likely early targets for the Vapor Chamber deployment.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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