There are over 100,000 cell towers in the US. If you count billboards, rooftops and other small cell sites, the number climbs to over 200,000.
Most of these sites are concentrated in urban areas, though cell towers are really everywhere, including in our rural areas.
If you wanted to build out a network of edge computers that spanned the globe, what better way to accomplish this than to co-locate cloud resources at the base of cell towers? Imagine a compute fabric consisting of thousands of microdatacenters spanning all of the major metropolitan areas, interoperating with today’s large, centralized cloud data centers, but allowing for highly-specialized low-latency workloads to be pushed all the way to the edge of the network within hundreds or thousands of feet of the end user or device.
This is the world we have imagined with our partners, and we are bringing it to a city near you.
Introducing Vapor Edge for Telecom
Last November we announced our flagship product, Vapor Edge, an end-to-end platform for edge computing. In the ensuing months we’ve seen huge demand from partners and customers looking to build out edge capacity, but none so profoundly as from the wireless carriers and tower landowners. And this makes sense. They have the real estate and the wireless infrastructure to traverse the last mile.
Today we’re proud to announce Vapor Edge for Telecom, a special version of Vapor Edge designed specifically for the wireless industry—now 5G-ready and designed to operate as a self-contained microdatacenter at the base of cell-enabled radio towers.
“Mobile operators and landowners are in an ideal position to capitalize on the emerging need for low-latency edge-computing,” said Cole Crawford, CEO and founder of Vapor IO. “They own the key infrastructure, including tens of thousands of remote tower and base station locations with power and high bandwidth backhaul. These locations are ideal for Vapor Edge technol`ogy, and Vapor Edge can help carriers upgrade their infrastructure and business models as they move to a fully virtualized infrastructure with edge computing and 5G capabilities.”
What is Vapor Edge for Telecom?
Vapor Edge for Telecom is an end-to-end platform for edge computing that provides wireless telecom companies with a simple way to deploy and manage cloud servers that are co-located with their base station equipment. This makes it easy for carriers and wireless base-station landowners to offer cloud compute capabilities in close proximity to the Radio Access Network (RAN), enabling new low-latency applications and creating new business models for these players as they forge partnerships with public cloud providers, web-scale companies and other OTT providers to deliver edge capabilities.
Vapor Edge for Telecom can also help carriers upgrade and virtualize their networks by providing a way to house and manage their standard rack-mountable equipment, including rack-mountable cloud servers as well as C-RAN, NFV, MEC and other specialized telecom equipment.
Vapor Edge for Telecom offers the following key benefits to wireless operators:
- Available for 5G or 5th Generation Wireless: Vapor Edge for Telecom supports today’s 2G, 3G and 4G technologies, and is currently available today for the coming 5G technologies that will provide extremely high-bandwidth, highly-reliable and very low latency wireless services.
- Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC): Vapor Edge for Telecom supports the concept of edge computing with or without MEC. Users can add server equipment to Vapor Edge without requiring any changes to base station equipment, but also as base station equipment receives MEC upgrades. Vapor Edge for Telecom interfaces with MEC APIs to coordinate work as well as expose real time status of the RF network to cloud applications. Equipment providers can also use Vapor Edge for Telecom to extend their MEC capabilities by housing MEC servers in the Vapor Chamber, which will allow for much more expansion capability than exists in standard base station equipment.
- Network Function Virtualization (NFV): As operators virtualize their networks and move their networking logic onto commodity off-the-shelf servers, those servers can be incorporated into Vapor Edge for Telecom. NFV servers can be housed in the Vapor Chamber located in a base station and can be instrumented with OpenDCRE for remote management with Vapor Edge software.
- Cloud Radio Access Network (C-RAN): Vapor Edge help operators move their Radio Access Network logic onto off-the-shelf servers. Vapor Edge also allows the operator to incorporate their own private cloud for operating C-RAN at the base station.
- Cloud and OTT Services. Vapor Edge allows public and private cloud providers, as well as OTT providers (such as media companies) to have a presence in the base station and run workloads on servers in the Vapor Edge environment, which can be used to offload work from centralized data centers.
Vapor Edge for Telecom components
Vapor Edge for Telecom consists of patented hardware designs optimized for edge environments and specialized software for remote operation and workload management. Included are:
- Vapor Chamber: An extremely dense, highly-efficient, self-contained and ruggedized server enclosure ideally suited for harsh environments like at the base of cellular towers. The Vapor Chamber can house up to 150Kw of equipment in six racks, making it perfect for building out microdatacenters. Vapor Chamber now has enhanced telecom-specific options, including seismic and RF shielding options to accommodate the fact that base stations can be uniquely harsh environments.
- OpenDCRE: Stands for Open Data Center Runtime Environment. This is an open source protocol and markup language for organizing and transmitting server and environmental sensor information. OpenDCRE provides insight into Vapor Edge microdatacenters for remote and lights-out operations. The new OpenDCRE interfaces to the base station hardware / RAN can provide RESTful interface to real-time RF network state; this allows application providers to make real-time placement and throughput decisions based on actual congestion on the RF network.
- Vapor Edge Software: Vapor Edge includes Vapor CORE and Vapor Compass software that operators use to monitor their equipment and environment, and control and schedule workloads, in Vapor Edge deployments. Vapor CORE provides for real-time visualization and monitoring of all equipment in a Vapor Edge environment. Vapor Compass works with modern scheduling systems, including Kubernetes, Mesos, Docker and DC/OS to optimize and control workload placement using dynamic rules and policies.
The Future of Edge is Upon Us
As wireless carriers and infrastructure providers gear up for delivering new services to subscribers (and building out their newer 5G networks), we will see and insatiable demand for edge computing. The wireless industry is poised to create new value in this space, leveraging their wireless infrastructure and real estate to deliver their own services as well as partner with cloud providers, webscale companies, and private enterprises to deliver exciting new services like autonomous driving, autonomous drones, IoT, and augmented and virtual reality applications.
For more information or to discuss your application, drop us a note at: [email protected]