Looks like the IT industry is rapidly moving its flanks to the edge—to the edge of a whole new greenfield IT industry that may turn out to be as important as, if not more important than, the cloud itself.
That could be hyperbole, but be assured that's not intended. This isn’t theory; it’s already happening.
Edge computing, generally, is any type of computing that takes place outside a data center. Smartphones, smart TVs, laptops, desktop PCs, small servers and routers, sensors and other similar devices can be considered “edge” devices. Edge computing also entails a growing genre of infrastructure-class computing platforms aimed at hyperscale cloud data centers to the network edge that are playing an increasingly important role in a distributed IT computing environment driven by the rise of the internet of things (IoT).
All of this has to be managed and managed effectively. That’s where the news comes in today, Feb. 5, 2019.
Invented the Edge Computing Concept
Dallas-based StackPath, which invented the edge computing concept, has launched what it describes as the world’s first secure edge platform with StackPath Edge Computing for containers and virtual machines. StackPath Edge Computing lets customers simply upload an image of their workload to the StackPath platform, choose a size of containers or VMs, and then select in which advanced StackPath edge nodes the workload should be deployed. The workload is then deployed worldwide in as fast as 60 seconds, the company contends.
Using it, StackPath users can deploy and manage their own workloads in any StackPath edge node worldwide. The platform enables them to put applications and services closer than ever before to their end users by leveraging more geographically diverse points of presence (PoPs) than centralized public clouds.
The closer proximity to computing resources makes the StackPath platform much more efficient for workloads that require near-immediate response times. For example, these use cases can range from security networks to video, media delivery to IoT and ad tech to finance.
“The internet has grown bigger and bigger but, from an end user or client perspective, it hasn’t grown closer and closer,” StackPath co-founder and CEO Lance Crosby said. “The most secure and innovative applications today need to get data back and forth—and processed in between—faster. You don’t want security requests or urgent data hopping around the world. That’s what StackPath Edge Computing is all about. Process it faster, safer. Right at the edge.”
Roots in SoftLayer, IBM
StackPath has its roots in a previous company Crosby founded and sold to IBM for a reported $2 billion five years ago: SoftLayer. Starting up SoftLayer in 2005, Crosby grew that cloud business (“Wildly,” he told eWEEK) into a franchise that caught the Big Blue eye in 2013, which then rebranded it into the IBM enterprise cloud. After two years with IBM, Crosby saw a major need to “evolve enterprise security to cloud security,” so he left, raised $200 million, started StackPath, bought six companies and then came out with his new cloud service.
“There weren’t many cloud [security] tools, and if there were, they were custom-built or made by the cloud providers,” Crosby told eWEEK. “I also saw that me and the other Big 3 cloud providers were all doing the same thing—building enormous data centers in the middle of cornfields, in the middle of nowhere, and we were all getting farther and farther away from the eyeballs.
“My hypothesis when I left was that I was going to go and create this thing called ‘edge,’ I’ll be in all the major IXes of the world; I raised $200 million out of the gate, went and bought six companies … and in the process of doing that, we built a global edge cloud.”
An IX (internet exchange point) is the physical infrastructure through which internet service providers (ISPs) and content delivery networks (CDNs) exchange internet traffic between their networks (autonomous systems).
Works With StackPath EdgeEngine
StackPath Edge Computing Containers and VMs complement the recently released StackPath EdgeEngine, a serverless computing service that lets developers run code at the cloud’s edge without a server, virtual machine or container.
“Our cloud is different from the other clouds,” Crosby said. “We have a specific focus on performance and security—obviously, if you’re going to the edge, you’re all about latency and the end-user experience. With our cloud, you can do the crypto (using specially available hardware) and not have to use your processor, for one big benefit.”
There are a lot of other technical benefits that StackPath brings to the table for enterprises. For details, you should head to the StackPath site and wander through them all. A key one is that the platform is completely set up for use with both VMs and containers for workload deployments.
“As we collaborated with our customers during development, it’s been amazing to hear their ideas for using edge containers and VMs,” said Ben Gabler, StackPath chief product officer. “Some will deploy at the edge virtual appliances that they can then sell to their own customer base. Others are creating new, even more dynamic ways to personalize the content that they deliver to their end users. A financial institution is even exploring how it can enhance their high-frequency practices. The use cases are endless.”
Other StackPath Edge Computing features include:
- Anycast IP: distribute traffic to the container or VM in the closest edge node to optimize cost and performance
- Hardware offload: offload select processing tasks such as network datapath processing from CPU to server SmartNICs
- Built-in CPU and RAM monitoring: view and report up to 24 hours of performance data through API or customizable web UI
- Security groups: set specific controls of network traffic before it reaches edge computing workloads
- Seamless integration with StackPath edge services: leverage low latency access to other StackPath secure edge services including CDN, DNS, WAF, monitoring and more
Additionally, StackPath Edge Computing uses its own high-performance global network, which includes:
- 45 full-stack edge locations
- 65+Tbps total network capacity
- Platform-wide layer 3-5 DDoS protection
- Private network backbone between all edge locations
- 26+ tier 1 transit providers
- 2,700+ peering partners
- 55,000+ visible ASNs
“The edge is not a replacement of cloud. It’s the evolution. With 5G on the rise and IoT growing massively, leveraging the power of the edge is crucial for practically any internet-centric business,” Crosby said. “You don’t need to move all of your operations to the edge, but part of almost any application can be run at the edge to reduce overall traffic costs, increase visibility and control, and improve end-user experiences.”
StackPath Edge Computing Containers and VMs became generally available Feb. 5. Container and VM instances are priced based on size (cores, RAM and root disk) starting at $0.091579/hour, with one-world pricing for all StackPath edge nodes.
For more information, go here.