Vapor IO debuts Kinetic Edge Exchange, teams up with Digital Realty for network peering at the edge

On Wednesday, Vapor IO made two significant and interrelated announcements in regards to network peering sites designed for edge computing. 

Vapor IO announced the launch of its Kinetic Edge Exchange (KEX) software-defined interconnection platform, and said that Digital Realty will launch KEX in its Chicago and Atlanta data centers.

"The Kinetic Edge Exchange is essentially the mechanism for allowing multiple networks to interconnect in edge environments to enable new classes of applications and peering in very close proximity to the edge to invoke very low latency environments," said Vapor IO Chief Marketing Officer Matt Trifiro.

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Trifiro said Vapor IO has KEX up and running in Chicago Atlanta and Pittsburgh with Dallas slated to go live by the end of the year. While Vapor IO and Digital Realty are currently launching in Chicago and Atlanta, the plan is to have it in place across Digital Realty's entire U.S. footprint at some point.

Vapor IO Founder and CEO Cole Crawford said the roadmap also includes having KEX live in Europe and other global locations next year. In addition to 5G or 4G, Vapor IO's KEX and supporting technologies can also be used to connect other technologies such as broadcasting's ATSC. 3.0, and the cable industry's DOCSIS 3.1.

"Internally, I've shared with the team that I think this announcement is one of the biggest we've done," Crawford said. "Obviously, you've got a multi billion dollar, multi-national datacenter company that we are announcing a partnership with and then some technology that we think is potentially industry redefining."

Vapor IO is billing KEX as the world's first software-defined platform for interconnections in edge locations. Using a Vapor IO portal or APIs, Digital Realty customers can connect to other exchange members using the virtual and physical "meet me room" capabilities that are provided by the Kinetic Edge Exchange. The virtual cross connects can be controlled by software, which allows users to rapidly adapt to changing business requirements, such as increasing bandwidth, using automation.

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Vapor IO's Crawford said that Kinetic Edge Exchange was a key element for the third act of the internet. The first act of the internet was built as a global "network of networks." During the 2000s that model gave way to the increasing regionalization of the internet through CDNs and localized infrastructure. Today, that second act is finishing up and the third act is emerging as the need for low latency, reduced backhaul network loading and overall higher performance requirements are driving new services and applications enabled by edge data centers at the very edge of the last mile network.

"The third act of the internet, which is where Vapor really wants to play an important role, is when you switch the traffic flow from being sort of content distributed to eyeballs, which have predominantly been human eyeballs," Cole said. "Now we have billions, or perhaps by 2035, as some say, trillions of devices where those eyeballs are mechanical, they're electrical, they're not just human. For example, you have IoT sensors generating petabytes of data a day per locale per location.

"It takes far more knowledge about the network, and it takes far more situational awareness around the quality of service that any sort of packet would take to or from its source or destination. Meaning a lot of wireless traffic will be locally broken out in 5G. So you've got point and multi point routing that is software-defined on the telco side with virtual network functions sitting there."

The third act also includes cloud on ramps that take data back to various public cloud companies, private cloud environments and owner-operated data centers where the enterprise itself might have a low latency or edge requirement. With KEX, the exchange services that are needed to support the emerging use cases occur at the edge of the last mile network with latency as low as 30 milliseconds and at a fraction of the backhaul cost of traditional, non-edge based approaches to traffic exchange.

"I think the biggest shift is that in the second act of the internet all of the data was really sent from a centralized place to a lot of decentralized locations or devices," Crawford said. "In the third act of the internet, it won't. It's not going to completely flip, but you're going to see a lot more, bi-directional traffic happening that looks far more symmetrical than today. The reality is we have to get a lot better about how to route that traffic.

"There's a lot of goodness that comes for keeping a network packet local and that's Vapor IO's mission."