Today, we are unveiling Project Volutus.
Project Volutus seeks to build the world’s largest network of distributed edge data centers by placing thousands of Vapor Chambers at the base of cell towers and directly cross-connecting them to the wireless networks. This will make it possible to push true cloud capabilities to within yards of the end device or application, one hop from the wireless network.
At its most straightforward, Project Volutus is a co-location and data center as a platform service that utilizes Vapor Chambers and Vapor software at the base of cell towers. Customers partner with Project Volutus to extend their cloud to the edge of the wireless network, weaving compute, networking and storage deep into the wireless infrastructure—delivering next-generation low-latency cloud services, including Cloud RAN, IoT, augmented and virtual reality, and autonomous driving.
Project Volutus customers include cloud providers, wireless network operators, web scale companies and Fortune 500 enterprises. A partnership with Project Volutus enables these companies to deliver next-generation low-latency edge applications from the cloud.
Project Volutus will be rolling out in the form of an Early Access program in two cities later this year. If you’d like to be a part of our growing ecosystem of customers and partners, visit volutus.io to sign up for Early Access.
Sign up for Project Volutus Early Access.
Volutus Defines the True Cloud Edge
Recent press has created a lot of interest and excitement around edge computing, but it’s also introduced a lot of confusion. In order to communicate clearly, we must distinguish between the different edge computing efforts so we understand the role that each plays.
Project Volutus is a True Cloud Edge, and it’s distinct from the other types of edge computing efforts. These other edge computing efforts enhance the ecosystem, and are supported by Project Volutus and its partners, but they are not themselves True Cloud Edge solutions.
Here is a rundown on the three most popular edge computing efforts which cannot be categorized as the True Cloud Edge:
- Edge Devices: Recent announcements from the big cloud providers have created a lot of excitement around edge computing with IoT edge devices. These announcements include Microsoft’s Azure IoT Edge and Amazon’s Greengrass. While these offerings are powerful and operate in conjunction with their respective public cloud provider services, they are not true cloud computing. They make it possible to run limited compute workloads, like Lambda functions, on the edge but those functions are not running in the cloud—they are running on devices that customers purchase. True cloud services are composed of virtual compute resources provisioned on demand; they do not require you to own hardware, and they have all of the elasticity, scalability and range of services that we’ve come to expect from the cloud. Edge Devices running workloads locally will surely play an important role in IoT, but they will not supplant the need for the True Cloud Edge and they are not themselves True Cloud Edge. Project Volutus will allow cloud services to run elastically at the edge of the network and will help satisfy the demand for cloud created by the growing number of Edge Devices in the field, so Project Volutus and Edge Devices will operate together and be mutually beneficial to each other.
- Regional and Metro “Edge” Data Centers: Some data center colocation providers have started labeling their regional and metropolitan data centers and interconnect points as “edge.” While these data centers may be more numerous and more closely located to end users and devices, they are not truly on the edge of the wireless network. Their connection to the wireless network is through multiple hops, central offices and data lakes. True Cloud Edge directly cross-connects to the wireless network and is a mere one hop away from the radio signal interface. These regional and metro data centers will play an important role in the n-tier architecture of the cloud, but they will be a midway point between the centralized data centers and the True Cloud Edge of Project Volutus. Project Volutus will allow for fiber runs from the Vapor Chambers at the cell towers directly to the regional data centers for extremely fast data exchange between the two tiers of cloud.
- Mobile Edge Computing or Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC): The wireless standards group ETSI has been advancing a multi-vendor wireless technology called MEC (formerly Mobile Edge Computing and now called Multi-Access Edge Computing). This is an exciting advancement because it provides a standard interface to the wireless network, allowing workloads to interface directly with the wireless base station but this, also, is not True Cloud Edge. Project Volutus supports MEC hardware running in Vapor Chambers but then adds a one hop connection to true cloud services running on other machines in the same location and provides a fast data pathway back to the regional and centralized cloud services.
A True Edge Cloud has the following attributes:
- Workloads run, literally, at the physical edge, adjacent to the devices and end users, on machines that are directly cross-connected to the wireless network. IP addresses are presented at the edge nodes, and handed off seamlessly at the edge, not resolved back in a central office location.
- All of the expected attributes of a centralized cloud exist in the edge location; these include elastic scalability on automatically provisioned equipment, and the full catalog cloud services.
- A direct connection to regional and centralized data centers, as well as the internet at large, providing fast and seamless tiers of service that are more appropriate for mission-critical computing that can’t rely on the legacy telco network backhaul.
Powered by Vapor IO
If you’ve been following Vapor IO, then you know our mission has been to design hardware and software that enables the next generation platform for edge clouds. Project Volutus utilizes Vapor IO’s technology to deliver its services.
Our end-to-end platform (Vapor Edge for Telecom) is specifically designed to deliver edge computing as part of the wireless infrastructure..
Our Vapor Chambers are completely self-contained and can be placed in harsh environments, such as at the base cell towers. They snap together like legos: A three-person crew can build a micro data center in a half day.
Our Vapor software makes it possible to run thousands of edge data centers remotely. For example, our OpenDCRE software runs as a service in every location, providing our customers with a common API for analyzing and controlling their infrastructure. These are the same APIs that we use to deliver our Project Volutus portal, which offers capabilities similar to those in our Vapor CORE and Vapor Compass software products, but which are delivered by Project Volutus “as-a-service” through a browser-based portal.
A Network of Fully-Managed Data Centers
Project Volutus provides a network of fully-managed, programmable data centers across a nationwide footprint of locations, such as those owned by Crown Castle. Project Volutus customers lease space, power, and networking in each of the desired cell tower locations and supply their own hardware to be rack-mounted in the Project Volutus facilities. Project Volutus provides the ability to directly cross-connect with the wireless network and also provides a fast fiber path back to the customer’s centralized or regional data center, or an interconnect point.
Project Volutus’ initial customers are the large cloud providers, carriers, and web-scale companies who need to build out an edge presence but who don’t have access to the wireless network locations or don’t want to be in the business of managing thousands of remote data center facilities.
For example, a public cloud provider would partner with Project Volutus to deploy its own cloud hardware in thousands of cell tower locations. The cloud provider would decide how it to present those capabilities to its end user customers—for example, as “edge regions,” premium priced “edge VMs” or perhaps bundled into an IoT service. Project Volutus operates the remote facilities and provides customers with real time telemetry and control services to remotely operate their equipment and network via APIs and browser-based tools.
Each Volutus location has five truly unique traits: (1) true datacenter-scale compute, in the form 150 Kw of capacity in each Vapor Chamber, (2) one hop access to the wireless network, (3) direct fiber routes to regional data centers and interconnects, (4) remote telemetry and operational controls delivered via Vapor software and APIs, and (5) a software-defined platform for orchestrating and managing equipment in thousands of data center locations with high-degrees of “lights out” automation.
Our Growing Ecosystem of Partners
Project Volutus depends on a network of partners that contribute to delivering services to customers and building a new cloud on the edge. Our launch partners include:
As part of the Project Volutus announcement, we are also announcing two significant pieces of supporting news:
- Crown Castle, the nation’s largest provider of shared wireless infrastructure, has made a minority investment in Vapor IO, in part to accelerate the work on Project Volutus
- Don Duet, former head of global technology at Goldman Sachs, has joined Vapor IO as president & COO where he brings his 28 years of data center and operating experience to help scale Vapor IO and make Project Volutus a success.