Today, ClearSky Data announced that it’s been selected by MetroEDGE, a new edge-based cloud services company, to provide self-protecting storage-as-a-service. Courtney Pallotta, VP of marketing at ClearSky, recently had a conversation with Jeremy Diamond, co-founder and COO of MetroEDGE, about the company, the partnership and the growing importance of the edge.

Tell us about MetroEDGE. Why did you and your partners decide to start this company?

When we founded MetroEDGE last year, we did so because there’s a huge need for advanced cloud services on the edge, within large cities, and the traditional public cloud players cannot play that role. Their businesses are based on scale, with enormous data centers that could never be built or operated affordably in urban areas. As a result, they’re hundreds, even thousands of miles from large cities, and those distances introduce significant latency.

As enterprises look to rely increasingly on the cloud for basic infrastructure like storage, and as advanced IoT services start rolling out in force, they’ll need compute and storage resources at the edge to provide the high performance and low latency they require. Our solution is to build small, state-of-the-art data centers inside large cities, starting with our facility on the South Side of Chicago.

But that’s just the first of what will be a national chain, correct?

That’s right. We’ll open a second facility in Gary, Indiana soon, followed by additional facilities in large cities on both the East and West Coasts. We’re building a national grid of micro clouds.

Why did you partner with ClearSky Data?

My partners and I knew we’d need to provide our customers with more than the typical data center or public cloud services to stand out. That’s why we selected ClearSky. By working with MetroEDGE and ClearSky, local businesses can eliminate nearly all their on-prem storage gear, their backup systems and their secondary disaster recovery (DR) facilities, which lets them radically simplify their infrastructure, all while saving 50 percent on the total cost of storage.

It’s a very compelling proposition to our customers.

Another benefit, which I know ClearSky talks about a lot, is backup independence. Backup and DR are built into the ClearSky service, and it happens in the background automatically. I’ve worked in IT operations for a long time, and I can tell you from experience that managing backup and DR is an enormous headache. ClearSky can free customers from that pain, and provide far lower RPOs and RTOs than they could achieve on their own without spending a fortune.

Why did you choose to build your first facility on the South Side of Chicago?

We are purposely locating our data centers in economically distressed areas of large cities. From a business perspective, there are some big incentives. Real estate costs are low, last year’s tax bill creates opportunity zones to encourage businesses like ours to set up shop there, and there’s a labor force that’s eager for the kind of well-paid jobs we can offer. But we’re doing more than just building our data centers there.

One of the four founders, Craig Huffman, is heavily involved in the ongoing redevelopment of Englewood, Chicago, so ensuring we provide a significant economic boost to the communities in which we’re located is a top priority for the team. That’s why we’re partnering with local colleges to help develop programs that will prepare people for data center careers. The goal is to build a business while also providing economic development for these communities.

Our first partnership is with Kennedy-King College in Chicago. We’re collaborating with them to create a two-year certificate program in data center technology. Not only are we helping to develop the curriculum, but we’re also building physical training rooms around a highly secure data center.

It’s a model we plan to replicate as we open additional facilities to create a national grid of metro micro clouds.

What’s your view of the future of edge computing and the cloud?

The edge is only going to grow in importance. Quite simply, the cloud needs the edge, and the big cloud players recognize this. Even AWS and Azure have started providing some edge services, primarily around IoT, which will be a huge driver for edge. Advanced IoT services like autonomous vehicles will create gigantic amounts of data and will absolutely require the edge to analyze all that data and provide a response fast enough to make good driving decisions.

But the enterprise is also fueling the growing demand for edge, because they are increasingly eager to simplify their operations and infrastructure with high-performance cloud services. For large, growing and widely dispersed data sets, processing at the edge has become essential.

There’s a rapidly growing need for these kinds of advanced edge services. Together, MetroEDGE and ClearSky are going to meet it.

Want to learn more about how ClearSky and MetroEDGE are working together to provide self-protecting storage-as-a-service? Read the announcement! Or sign up for a demo to see for yourself how ClearSky can simply your storage infrastructure while saving 50 percent on the total cost of storage ownership.