The market shift towards edge computing was clearly seen in a flurry of announcements in late 2020 that showcased the many ways stakeholders in distributed computing are stepping up their investment and deploying real-world edge infrastructure.
Edge computing is a trend that will play out over many years, and has been boosted by enthusiasm over technologies with long deployment horizons.
“Everyone has been talking about the edge for the better part of the last 18 months,” said Marc Ganzi, CEO of Colony Capital, an investor in DataBank. “While computers have continued to grow rapidly over the last 10 years, what’s been underappreciated is the exceptional growth in demand that’s yet to come. Machine-to-machine communications will underpin use cases for AI, IoT and cloud computing, which will cause compute demand to skyrocket.”
After several years of announcements of funding and visions for far-flung edge networks, the market shifted into construction and deployment in 2020. This transition is important. Amid all the hype and enthusiasm around edge computing, skeptics have been asking the hard question: Who’s going to pay to build it, and use it? In recent months we’ve seen clear examples of partnerships, acquisitions and deployments that signal a new phase of edge growth:
- Switch announced teaming up with FedEx and Dell Technologies to create an edge computing network for enterprise customers, deploying Switch modular data centers on FedEx real estate, with Dell providing hardware and managed services.
- DataBank acquired zColo and invested $30 million in modular specialist EdgePresence, massively increasing its data center footprint and edge capabilities.
- EdgeMicro has shifted into active development, with data center construction projects underway in five new markets, the company revealed last week. The company is bringing modular deployments to Cleveland, Indianapolis, Memphis, Houston, and Pittsburgh. The sites are slated to come online before the end of 2020.
- Vapor IO announced agreements with Alef Edge and Hivelocity to deploy a mobile edge computing platform in Atlanta and Pittsburgh, with plans to expand to as many as 36 sites as Vapor IO builds out its national network of modular edge data centers.
- Amazon Web Services disclosed it will deploy three new AWS Wavelength Zones on the Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband network in Atlanta, New York City, and Washington DC. Wavelength embeds AWS compute and storage services in the telecom network, enabling developers to use 5G connections to create low-latency apps.
- Regional data center specialist Flexential teamed with American Tower to begin deploying edge computing infrastructure, with an initial deployment in Atlanta. The deal is the first in a planned series of local edge facilities to deploy Flexential’s FlexAnywhere network fabric and cloud on-ramp offering.
- Equinix announced that Nokia will deploy its Worldwide IoT Network Grid (WING) managed service in multiple Equinix data centers, providing faster market entry and expansion for operators deploying IoT business services.
- EdgeConneX was acquired by EQT Infrastructure, a move that the companies say will accelerate the growth of EdgeConneX, which has been a leading player in both edge computing and hyperscale data center markets.