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With $90m in funding, Vapor IO is expanding the Kinetic Edge platform to 36 major markets across the United States, greatly accelerating the rollout of the largest network solving for the edge. This nationwide expansion of the Kinetic Edge platform will allow our customers to deploy edge computing to the top 30+ metropolitan markets in the U.S., with a projected reach to as much as 70% of the population. We plan to complete the work within 24 months, creating a nationwide footprint. With multiple sites spanning each metropolitan region, each market will support the full complement of Kinetic Edge services, including edge exchange, colocation and networking in our custom-designed Carrier Neutral Facilities (CNFs)

With multiple sites online in each Kinetic Edge market, our customers can implement a software-defined approach to high availability that spreads downtime risk across adjacent sites and enables reliable services at the edge. Each Kinetic Edge site interconnects to both on-edge and off-edge network locations using the Kinetic Edge Fabric. The Kinetic Edge infrastructure designed and operated by Vapor IO for the challenges of the edge offers optimal and redundant fiber routes with built-in software-defined networking (SDN) for customer-specific topologies. This Edge Network Fabric supports high availability at the edge, which relies on moving workloads and state information in real time between edge sites as conditions change.

36 Kinetic Edge Cities by 2021

Today’s active Kinetic Edge markets are: Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas and Pittsburgh. Each of these markets has multiple Kinetic Edge sites that behave like availability zones, and are fully operational for customer equipment and workloads.

The map at the top of this post shows the first 20 Kinetic Edge regions (16 new, plus the 4 mentioned above) marked with blue pins. The red pins show planned 2021 expansion.

The first 20 Kinetic Edge markets are, in alphabetical order: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C. The remaining 16 markets planned for 2021 have not yet been announced and are subject to change, though the image above shows our current expansion plans.

A Complete Solution for the Third Act of the Internet

As articulated in the 2020 State of the Edge report, we are entering the Third Act of the Internet, which will demand infrastructure edge computing to support low-latency and hyper-local workloads. By combining leading technologies and expertise in edge exchange, edge colocation and edge networking, the Kinetic Edge platform incorporates all of the key elements needed to create the next tier of internet infrastructure, fulfilling the Third Act of the Internet which demands a new and highly localized approach to internet infrastructure. Only by extending the internet infrastructure deep into each city can we, as an industry, enable new edge capabilities.

Constructing a Nationwide Kinetic Edge

The expansion of the Kinetic Edge platform into many markets capitalizes upon years of effort and process refinement at Vapor IO, focused on making the deployment of edge infrastructure practical and efficient. 

A great deal of engineering, real estate, networking and data center design expertise goes into building out a Kinetic Edge city.

Site Selection

Every Kinetic Edge city has multiple Kinetic Edge data centers, also referred to as availability zones. As we enter a new market, we first assemble a comprehensive list of potential sites and fiber routes, as well as geographic and demographic information about the market.

We then sort through the list of potential Kinetic Edge sites in a market and grade them according to nearly 200 criteria, including:

  1. Nearby population density
  2. Access to metro fiber connectivity
  3. Proximity to nearby wireless network towers
  4. Power stability and redundancy
  5. Local noise regulations and siting ordinances

During our initial evaluation, we select at least 20 potential Kinetic Edge sites and then begin a complex permitting process for the most promising locations, which is different for each municipality, and in some cases can take several years. To prepare for our rapid expansion of the Kinetic Edge into nationwide markets, Vapor IO has many dozens of permit applications in flight, ensuring that there are no delays when we move to turn on a market. For many of our initial markets, we believe we will have a multi-year lead on alternative infrastructure edge solutions because of the preparatory work we already have underway.

Just in Time Site Deployment

In order to roll out 36 markets in two years, we’ve had to optimize our processes in ways that are analogous to modern high-speed factories, so that new sites can be put into operation quickly. Our custom-engineered Vapor Edge Modules (VEMs), which are self-contained modular edge data centers, allow us to maintain a just-in-time inventory system. When we’re ready to deploy a new market, we literally drive the data centers to the site on a truck and crane them onto a concrete pad or piers. Our target is 90 days to bring each site online, which is a very rapid pace.

Our VEM micro data centers support 150 to 180 kw of IT equipment in challenging edge locations. Unlike off-the-shelf data center modules (such as those by Schneider Electric or Baselayer), the Vapor Edge Modules are extremely high-density (supporting upwards of 35 kw per rack) and highly-secure. Our modular data center designs rival the energy efficiencies and power densities of hyperscale data centers, making them superior to alternative off-the-shelf solutions. They are also the only micro modular data centers that have been built from the ground up to support multiple tenants, with highly-secure physical and logical isolation of customer equipment. This allows us to assure Cloud Provider A that their equipment will be completely inaccessible to Cloud Provider B, even with no supervising personnel on site.

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

Vapor Edge Modules are made in a factory to exacting specifications and are put through rigorous testing and burn-in phases before being loaded onto an 18-wheeler “low boy” for transport across the country.

Prior to the VEM arriving on site, a concrete slab will have been laid with power and network cabling conduits routed through to the topside.

A concrete slab shown with power and network conduits to support a Vapor Edge Module

Vapor IO currently ships two VEM designs, each designed for different space configuration. The VEM 150 is moved as a single unit, and is ideal for a longer, rectangular footprint, whereas the VEM 180 is transported as two halves which are then stacked on site with the aid of a small crane, and is ideal for smaller, square-like footprints, such as a repurposed iDEN pad, which is common on many cell sites. To support a VEM, a site requires a mere 10’x20’ footprint.

The Vapor Edge Module is moved into position above the concrete slab and carefully lowered onto the power and fiber conduits, with extra care taken to position the VEM correctly on them.

When a VEM arrives on site, it’s a simple day-long task to crane it onto the concrete pad.

A Vapor Edge Module being lowered by crane onto the concrete slab

The VEM is secured to the pad and the power and fiber conduit connections are connected to the VEM’s internal systems to support power, cooling and connectivity, as well as for the IT equipment that will operate inside its racks. At this point, the VEM is nearly operational.

Vapor Edge Module

A Vapor Edge Module installed on the concrete slab

Designed for Edge Locations

The Kinetic Edge can be positioned in many locations that cannot support more traditional data center deployments, thanks in large part to our streamlined and unobtrusive deployment process. Pictured below is an operational Kinetic Edge site deployed outside Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Kinetic Edge deployment outside Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Kinetic Edge deployment outside Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Reaching Critical Mass

By expanding the Kinetic Edge platform to 36 major markets, we seek to be the first company delivering nationwide infrastructure edge computing—installed as a neutral-host extension to the existing Internet. By rapidly deploying nationwide, we hope to accelerate the Third Act of the Internet by ensuring network operators, content providers and others that edge native and edge enhanced applications can reach the majority of the US population, creating an unmatched network effect with the Kinetic Edge platform.