Vapor IO to Start Offering Data Center Capacity at Wireless Network Towers


Vapor IO, an Austin-based data center technology startup, is launching a colocation business offering leased data center capacity at wireless network towers. Their new venture aims to transform tens of thousands of cell towers into edge locations capable of delivering low latency and much faster cloud services to mobile applications.

To build network capacity, the company also has a minority stake from Crown Castle, the largest wireless tower company in the US as of last December. Crown Castle leases approximately 40,000 cell towers to all the top wireless carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. The companies did not disclose the size of the investment.

Vapor IO has also recently announced a new service called Project Volutus, which is built on Vapor IO’s prior investments. The service includes site selection to rack space, power, connectivity, infrastructure management software, and remote hands. Customers partner with Project Volutus to extend their cloud to the edge of the wireless network, integrating compute, networking and storage with the wireless infrastructure to deliver next-generation low-latency cloud services. Vapor IO’s data center capacity will reside inside these edge data centers, charging them on a per-kilowatt-hour basis.

Project Volutus combines edge co-location with remote operations, intelligent cross-connects to wireless networks, and direct fiber routes to regional data centers and peering interconnects. It provides unique point-to-point, multi-point and mesh tower-to-tower connections, bypassing the multi-hop high-latency backhaul of the legacy wireless networks and delivering low millisecond round trips.

Project Volutus also utilizes Vapor IO software (which is based upon OpenDCRE, the open source telemetry system for remote monitoring and operations), as well as Vapor IO’s commercial packages (Vapor CORE and Vapor Compass) delivered as a managed service. This allows Project Volutus operations teams, as well as Project Volutus customers, to manage thousands of ‘lights out’ Vapor Edge Computing locations from remote operations centers.

Vapor IO, especially with the partnership with Crown Castle, is set to become leaders in building infrastructure for edge computing services and for large cloud providers to push their services to the edge location. With Project Volutus, cloud providers can enable deployment of applications not just in a region or zone but a micro zone running within a cell tower.

The company will in-tandem deploy its cylindrical data center enclosures called Vapor Chamber. The cylinders are completely self-contained and can be placed in hostile edge environments, such as at the base cell towers and with software capabilities geared toward mobile applications.

The investment Vapor IO is making with public cloud providers and web-scale companies is in the hopes that the companies will leverage Project Volutus to meet with increasing demand for vastly improved edge computing capabilities. Having remote data centers will deliver upcoming developments such as low-latency cloud services, including Cloud RAN, IoT, augmented and virtual reality, and autonomous driving to as many end users as possible. Edge computing is certainly in the up and running contender for the leading technology, as major telecom companies like AT&T and Verizon are transitioning from in-person central offices to data centers in order make networks more dynamic via Software-Defined Networking technologies and to support Virtual Network Functions that can be delivered as cloud services.

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