A modular data center design from Compass Quantum, a new edge computing initiative. (Image: Compass Datacenters)
Edge computing can be complicated. Compass Datacenters is launching a new service called Quantum that aims to make it simple to provision distributed data centers.
Quantum is a White Space as a Service (WSaaS) solution for adding incremental IT capacity, either to expand an existing facility or extend operations to the edge of the network. Quantum combines a modular data center and services, with Compass personnel handling installation and operation.
The offering includes site selection, site preparation and permitting, installation, monitoring and operation for each Quantum 100kW modular data center deployment. Compass says Quantum solutions can be deployed within four months.
“Companies want to be able to quickly, cost-effectively add small increments of white space exactly where they need it when they need it – without all the logistical, financial and operational headaches related to distributed IT infrastructure,” said Chris Crosby, CEO of Compass Datacenters.
Tony Grayson has joined Compass as General Manager of Compass Quantum, shifting his focus from the cloud to the edge. Grayson was most recently Senior VP of Physical Infrastructure for Oracle Cloud, and has also heled leadership positions in data center teams at Facebook and Amazon Web Services. Prior to entering the IT industry, Grayson spent 20 years in the Navy, serving as commanding officer of a nuclear submarine.
Grayson says Quantum is designed to “solve all of the most complex and frustrating aspects of deploying distributed digital infrastructure.”
“From downtown in a metro area to the middle of the desert, our team can take care of every step in the process including site selection, permitting and operations,” said Grayson. “This approach enables our customers to structure this as a straightforward OpEx expense rather than a risky CapEx project.”
Rapid Capacity in an OpEx Model
Edge computing extends data processing and storage closer to the growing universe of devices and sensors at the edge of the network, enabling new technologies and services across low-latency wireless connectivity. Many startups and service providers have targeted the market for edge computing.
That includes Compass, which entered the edge computing market in 2018 with the acquisition of EdgePoint, which has deployed modular infrastructure to support network optimization. Compass Quantum represents an updating and rebranding of that initiative.
“No one seems to have cracked the nut on how to build a unique data center for remote locations,” said Grayson. “I took it as a challenge. I really think we’re going to need data centers everywhere.”
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Grayson says the as-a-service approach is central to the Compass vision for the business, enabling customers to avoid using their capital, and quickly add full data center functionality without boosting headcount or retooling existing operations.
“I like the easy button,” said Grayson. “These modules are built to go wherever you want or need a data center.”
Positioned for Enterprise Density, Network Growth
The Compass Datacenters vision is to “make lives better by providing the world’s technology leaders a secure place to plug in wherever they grow.” Compass creates scalable building blocks of data center capacity, employing a standard design and pre-fabricated components to control cost and speed to market.
In 2019, Compass investors RedBird Capital and the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund joined with Israeli real estate firm Azrieli Group on an investment round that enabled Compass to build bigger, enter new markets, and acquire companies, land and executives to execute its vision. The result is a company with offerings extending from the edge to the cloud, including everything from micro-modular data centers to hyperscale deployments.
The original EdgePoint design featured 80 kW of IT capacity and a full 2N electrical and mechanical design. Quantum will lead with a slightly larger 100 kW design featuring space for 12 racks instead of the original 10. It features a 2N redundant design, while offering an option for a 200 kW “N” configuration for workloads that are less mission critical.
“If someone’s going to run a business on this, it needs to be reliable,” said Grayson, who said the 2N design approach also minimizes the need for truck rolls that boost maintenance cost.
Grayson sees two use cases for the Quantum service. “Many enterprises and telcos are finding that densities are getting higher, and their current data centers can’t handle it, so they’re looking for a quick upgrade or to modernize,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of network expansions going on now, including the push to bring broadband to rural areas.”
That’s the model for Connected Nation, a nonprofit with a mission to expand access to broadband in underserved areas.
“Compass Quantum’s White Space as a Service model is a perfect fit for organizations like ours that are seeking to rapidly deploy a solution to address a specific need – in our case, maximizing the recent federal investment in broadband infrastructure by deploying facilities that bring neutral interconnection, cloud and content to smaller cities and rural areas,” said Tom Ferree, Chairman and CEO of Connected Nation.
“Building out internet exchange points in smaller markets with a traditional capex model would be very difficult not only in terms of up-front investment but also in terms of the work involved in that scale of site selection, permitting, facility operations and maintenance,” said Ferree. “With the comprehensive package that Quantum provides, companies get exactly the IT capacity they need without the headache of managing those challenges. That is invaluable for us as we continue with our mission of closing the Digital Divide for all Americans.”