Just a few months ago, I made three predictions for 2019 about backup, edge and cloud. One of them — that we would see the metro cloud make a comeback — is already showing strong signs of coming true.
But as much as I’d like to be the sole provider of this prediction, I’m not alone. For instance, Gartner, in an August 2018 report, wrote that "edge computing requirements will change the shape of infrastructure for almost all enterprises, shifting information processing from highly centralized to a mix of centralized and distributed. The number of locations where enterprise information processing will take place will grow rapidly, creating both business opportunities and tremendous challenges and risks."
Those business opportunities are leading to the rapid build-out of micro clouds on the edge and rapid growth for data center and connectivity providers who already have facilities inside large urban areas.
A new entry to edge cloud: MetroEDGE
One of the newest players in the metro cloud industry is MetroEDGE, a Chicago-based company that has ambitious plans to build a nationwide grid of micro cloud facilities and services in economically distressed areas in large cities, starting with the South Side of Chicago and then rapidly opening new facilities in Gary, Ind. and other cities in the Midwest. ClearSky Data has partnered with MetroEDGE to deliver self-protecting storage-as-a-service to their customers, because their vision of providing advanced cloud services close to the customer aligns so well with our own. (You can learn more about MetroEDGE in this Q&A that our VP of marketing, Courtney Pallotta, conducted with their COO, Jeremy Diamond last week.)
The metro cloud is important to ClearSky because our service architecture requires a presence at the edge to provide the level of performance that end-users and high-performance applications require. The public cloud is an incredible tool, but it does have its limitations, and one of the biggest is latency. Their giant data centers are often located in sparsely populated areas far from big cities, which makes great economic sense. The laws of physics introduce significant latency when transferring data over the hundreds or thousands of miles between their data centers and their end users.
End-users, for example, can detect latency as low as 10 milliseconds, and the threshold for some sensitive applications is even lower. That’s why we always have a point of presence (PoP) at the metro edge within 120 miles of our customers. If the data an end-user requires isn’t in the local cache, the service will access the data at the PoP with minimal latency and flash performance.
Another driver for the growth in the metro edge is the incredible amount of data that enterprises and, increasingly, IoT-enabled applications are generating across a variety of locations. For example, last year, IDC predicted that the total amount of global data will grow from 33 zettabytes (ZB) last year to 175 ZB by 2025. If IDC is right, we’re looking at a compounded annual growth rate for data of more than 60 percent. That’s a crushing amount of information, and, in many cases — for example, self-driving vehicles — that information will need to be processed very rapidly. Each self-driving car will produce a ton of data, as much as four TB to 10 TB per day, depending on who you talk to. There’s no way that much data can be sent to the cloud, crunched and returned with a result in enough time to inform split-second driving decisions. Enterprise apps and advanced IoT applications will require compute and storage on the edge.
Equinix and Faction
MetroEDGE isn’t the only edge provider with which we are partnering. In November, we announced a partnership with Equinix, the giant global interconnection company. Equinix has more than 200 data centers on five continents. They provide access in more than 52 major markets and have direct connections to all the major public clouds. It’s a global platform on which we can rapidly expand.
Earlier in 2018, we announced a partnership with Faction, a hybrid cloud platform-as-a-service provider with seven locations in large cities across the US, plus a facility in London. Faction’s on-demand cloud that enables IT to spin up VMware instances and pay for them on-demand. It’s a model that’s very similar to the way customers spin up storage resources with ClearSky. So, if a customer wants to get out of their secondary data center for DR, ClearSky (in partnership with Faction) make this a reality.
The growth of the metro cloud is just beginning. To meet the growing needs of enterprises and advanced IoT, we will need even more resources on the metro edge. And as the metro edge grows, so will ClearSky.