Introducing the Kinetic Grid, an Edge-to-Edge Platform for the Internet We Need

6 min read
Jun 09, 2021

2020 was an intense year, especially given the onslaught of Covid 19 and its ensuing chaos. In spite of the turbulence, though, it was a banner year for edge infrastructure companies like Vapor IO. It turns out, the future of factory robotics, distance learning and remote operations, among other use cases, depend a lot on edge computing—and Covid created skyrocketing demand for the infrastructure to support these capabilities.

In January 2020, just before the Covid lockdown, we announced the close of our $90-million Series C funding. Our Kinetic Edge™ platform was generally available, commercial customers were deploying in our first markets, and we shared detailed plans for aggressively building a full portfolio of Kinetic Edge cities in the U.S.

Today we announced our next tour de force, the Kinetic Grid platform, the world’s first truly intelligent infrastructure service with an edge-to-edge national backbone.

Meet the Kinetic Grid

The internet evolved from the core out, but today’s applications need it to operate from the edge in. The Kinetic Grid platform is the only edge-to-edge system that delivers on this promise, combining colocation, networking and interconnection infrastructure into a nationwide platform for modern applications.

Vapor IO’s software-driven Kinetic Grid platform delivers hyperscale-grade data centers, core backbone networks, and virtualized interconnection built from the edge in, and connected edge-to-edge. 

We are building fiber backbones and geo-distributed edge data centers in dozens of markets, delivering the highest-performance edge-to-edge automated and intelligent, networking, and interconnection, and colocation services tightly-integrated with the first and last mile networks.

The Kinetic Grid provides:

  • Edge-to-Edge Intelligence: The Kinetic Grid platform operates in a highly automated fashion and provides critical and real time telemetry for contextualizing resources, responding to actual and predicted failure conditions, as well as hypercomposing resource flows for implementing the Open Grid.
  • Edge-to-Edge Interconnection: Vapor IO also operates its Kinetic Edge Exchange, a high-speed, software-defined interconnection services platform at the edge. Customers can cross-connect, via software, to other networks on Vapor IO’s platform. Networks available in the Kinetic Grid include access to major Internet Exchange Providers, cloud on-ramps, and local wired and wireless service operators.
  • Edge-to-Edge Colocation: Vapor IO is building and operating micro data centers in 36 US markets. These data centers are part of Vapor IO’s Kinetic Edge and they are the closest publicly accessible on-ramps to the Kinetic Grid network. Enterprise customers can colocate IT equipment in these facilities to operate near-premise workloads. Vapor IO’s micro data centers are highly efficient, fully managed facilities that connect in a metro area via the Kinetic Edge and connect nationwide via the Kinetic Grid.
  • Edge-to-Edge Networking: The Kinetic Grid is built from the ground up, starting with dark fiber. The fiber is lit with cutting-edge PAM4 optics which connect via core internet routers and is operated by Vapor IO using custom-built SDN software nationwide, not publicly available via any other combined system.

It Takes A Village

While the future of the internet is still being built, one thing is clear: no one company can do it alone. That is why we’ve also announced two industry-leading partnerships that support and enhance our Kinetic Grid offering:

  • Zayo: We partnered with Zayo, one of the world’s leading providers of fiber infrastructure, to build a nationwide backbone (a high-speed, dedicated commercial grade network) to connect all of our Kinetic Edge markets into a national fabric that operates in-market and between markets.
  • VMware: We partnered with VMware, the venerable virtualization software company, to  help them build a Multi-Cloud Services Grid, a software and infrastructure system capable of responsively deploying application and network function workloads across public and private clouds in low-latency edge environments. This integrated system will be first deployed in Las Vegas in a testbed environment, then rolled out to Dallas and Atlanta. It’s capable of supporting 5G RAN (and its microsecond latencies) as well as low-latency edge applications, including immersive gaming and factory robotics.

Vapor IO and its partners are fulfilling the vision of the Open Grid Alliance with the first commercial offerings that implement the concept of an Open Grid. Expect many more similar partnerships to be announced in the near future.

The Kinetic Edge Builds up to the Kinetic Grid

A lot has been written about the Kinetic Edge, which is the in-market foundational building block of the Kinetic Grid (this is a good overview).

The Kinetic Edge is market-specific. Each Kinetic Edge market—from Seattle to Miami—has a unique topology and we build the Kinetic Edge to fit that market. We first identify hundreds of possible physical locations for our modular data centers, optimizing for fiber aggregation points, proximity to cell towers, population, geographical diversity, and so on. We use about 180 different selection criteria. Then we whittle it down to about 20 sites, which we set about laying our foundation. We pull permits, evaluate power, sign land leases, and trench fiber laterals when necessary. We then prioritize a few sites where we lay down a foundation and do all the prep work required to support a Vapor Edge Module, from permitting to power.

By working in parallel across 36 U.S. markets, we are optimizing for a “just in time” activation to meet customer demand.

Each Kinetic Edge market stands on its own, but also rolls up to the larger Kinetic Grid.

A National Backbone Powered by Zayo

What few people realize is that the vast majority of internet traffic does not pass through the legacy internet backbones operated by tier 1 providers. Instead, as much as 75% of internet-related traffic travels over private backbones owned by large cloud providers and other hyperscalers. To deliver more performant services, the Googles, Amazons and Facebooks of the world have built their own backbones that they control and offer to their customers as part of a relationship.

The Kinetic Grid has a national backbone that everyone can use. We’ve partnered with Zayo, a leading provider of fiber in the U.S., to light dedicated long-haul strands between Kinetic Edge markets.

We light the strands with our PAM4 optics and lay down our software-defined network to create a fabric that spans the nation. This provides Vapor IO customers with market-to-market connectivity on the Kinetic Grid in the same way they get in-market connectivity on the Kinetic Edge.

The Dawn of Intelligent Infrastructure

The Kinetic Grid platform delivers the contextualized telemetry and programmatic controls necessary to build highly-automated systems. Applications, operational tools and orchestration systems can make intelligent, algorithmic and AI-driven decisions that dynamically reconfigure the Kinetic Grid in highly-automated ways, in real time, without human intervention.

Vapor IO developed Synse, the world’s most open telemetry system for critical infrastructure and has contributed it to open source to make it a standard.

Open source drives adoption and the more systems that utilize Synse, the greater the interoperability of grid technologies and the more power that can be placed in the hands of developers and operators to make decisions about how their application should react to real time changes in infrastructure conditions.

As an example, VMware is integrating its Telco Cloud Platform with the Kinetic Grid platform by utilizing Synse for making intelligent orchestration and placement decisions.

Jumpstart Your Grid Application

Ready to get started? Talk to our sales team or collaborate with us to custom-design a Kinetic Grid Readiness Workshop where your team can learn about the Kinetic Grid and how it can support your applications and business goals. Whether you’re a telco deploying 5G or an enterprise looking to accelerate your digital transformation, we’ll help support your specific use case and bring in the experts to help make it a reality.

Get started now!


Matt Trifiro


Matt Trifiro is the Chief Marketing Officer of Vapor IO where he leads the company’s global marketing, branding and communications efforts. Matt is an expert in edge computing,Co-chair of the State of…
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