Cloud storage-as-a-service company ClearSky Data is expanding its footprint to meet the demand for Edge Computing workloads.
Founded on the US East Coast, ClearSky expanded westward as customer demand required, but the sudden leap in demand from edge computing workloads has accelerated its expansion plans. ClearSky had already partnered with datacenter provider Equinix, tapping into its well-respected network of locations and high quality networking services required for serving storage traffic, making expansion much simpler than for those constructing their own facilities.
“Previously we only got as far as Chicago,” said Ellen Rubin, CEO and co-founder of ClearSky Data, “But now we’ve deployed in Silicon Valley, we’ll do LA shortly, and we’re sort of filling in with central Dallas, Denver, those are some of the other locations coming up.”
“Our first customer in the [San Francisco] Bay area is a multi-national and about half their business is over in the UK, so that will give us a lovely reason to expand with them and with Equinix,” Rubin said. ClearSky is also in the advanced stages of an opportunity in Latin America, according to Rubin.
Rubin credits early investments in automation as critical to ClearSky’s ability to quickly expand now. “It’s like security. If you didn’t bake it in from the very beginning, it’s unbelievably painful to go back and try to fix it,” she says. “Laz [Vekiarides, CTO and co-founder of ClearSky] and I have enough scars from previous companies that we were like ‘We’re doing that on day one’. Before it even comes up as an issue, we’re going to design it in because we can’t imagine how we would turn this into a real business without it.”
Edge computing isn’t experiencing the same contentious early period that happened in the early days of cloud. The industry spent years arguing about what ‘cloud’ really meant (and some parts of it still are), and fought bitterly against it, before everyone decided to just get on with things with a mostly-workable definition.
With edge computing, people seem to have skipped straight to a practical let’s-get-on-with-it approach where the benefits of computing in lots of locations that aren’t a centralized datacenter just seem to be taken as an obviously correct thing you would need to do. The fact that this makes a lot more companies products relevant again may have something to do with it.
“There’s always the pendulum swinging back and forth between centralized and decentralized. That’s always a thing,” says Rubin. “What’s nice about the edge thing is that this time it’s driven by the fact that you have so much more data activity—creation and collection—that didn’t used to happen because a lot of that was much more consolidated itself.”
ClearSky is benefitting from this practicality. While it launched in the era of “Let’s not have our own datacenter” and moving workloads to cloud computing generally, the need to process lots of data at distributed locations, particularly those driven by IoT datastreams, has made its offer that much more compelling. Customers are already familiar with subscribing to infrastructure services because of the cloud wars, so there’s vastly less friction to overcome.
Having the right kind of luck is an oft-overlooked part of startup success. Being at the edge right now looks like being in the right place at the right time.