Flexential, American Tower partner for edge computing; Denver, Atlanta to start with portfolio to scale into

Flexential, American Tower partner for edge computing; Denver, Atlanta to start with portfolio to scale into

Flexential confirmed a new partnership with wireless infrastructure provider American Tower as part of the introduction of edge data centers – Flexential Local Edge – into its portfolio.

The following company briefing has been made available through our partnership with Structure Research, an independent research and consulting firm with a focus on the cloud, edge and data center markets.

Details: American Tower has started to build out its edge data center footprint with locations in Denver and Boulder, Colorado. It has also built out in Atlanta around a centralized data Centre – Colo Atl – at 55 Marietta and in a suburban Atlanta location. All three of the Denver, Boulder and suburban Atlanta facilities are housed in micro data centres built by EdgePresence and located at the base of wireless tower sites. Flexential and American Tower have basically set up a channel arrangement. Flexential will sell edge data center capacity to its clients out of these American Tower locations where EdgePresence-enabled micro data centers sit. The micro data centers will have 9 racks and 96kW of total power across 360 sqft of space. The facilities are multi-tenant and customers will take either a full, half or quarter of a rack. There is also 100kW of backup power. The compute infrastructure at the edge will tether back into the FlexAnywhere SDN platform. Flexential will offer customers connectivity and layer 2 transit to peering points in carrier hotels and Flexential PoPs. Once there, FlexAnywhere enables connectivity back to Flexential ‘core’ data centers or to public cloud on-ramps. In Flexential data centers, customer can also consume colocation, private cloud, DR and backup and storage services.

More details: Flexential is starting with a minimum of a 12-month contract and will have additional services like remote hands available. The setup process involves making an appointment and setting up a time to be escorted into the facility where supervised testing and install will take place. It is not dissimilar to how current data centers visits are run in a pandemic environment. The partnership will see Flexential customers stay on Flexential paper and American Tower customers can do the same. Each side can cross-sell services.

Scaling: The micro data center sites – at least the ones deployed in now – typically only have room for one micro data center. So expansion is going to be about finding more tower sites in a given metro rather than rolling in another micro data center on any particular site. Flexential, not surprisingly, has already taken a close look at American Tower’s portfolio and identified sites in various markets across the US and multiple sites within markets. So Denver could see multiple edge data center locations as demand develops and user requirements become clearer. The partnership gives Flexential access to sites in markets it currently does not have a data center presence in. It can move into these locations and set up an edge compute node and install the FlexAnywhere platform. This would enable a small targeted compute footprint out at the edge and the ability to connect back into the Flexential network and footprint.

Verticals: The Denver site is being used to serve a smart city initiative. Flexential is seeing interest from service providers like CDNs, along with healthcare, media and retail.

Other edge building scenarios for Flexential: This is one partnership and path to market but not the only way Flexential is building out its Local Edge product. It is evaluating other micro data center vendors and evaluating deployment scenarios that are not oriented around being at the base of a wireless tower.

Angle: There has been significant movement over the last few months in edge deployments as POCs and test sites translate into live deployments. The early use cases are starting to show up. For Flexential, this kind of partnership makes a ton of sense. It can piggyback off the American Tower footprint to find strategic locations and use its infrastructure to connect back to its own network. And that is the ultimate goal here. Flexential is looking to enable computing and data centers as an extension to what it does at the core. It is trying to get infrastructure out as far and as close to the end user as possible. In the long-term, national operators like Flexential are going to have literally dozens of locations where they operate, but the size and quantity of data centers is going to have a wide range.

Phil Shih, Managing Director, Structure Research 

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