• Ash Young

Keeping My Head Out of the Clouds


Sometimes it feels as though people think I am fundamentally against any form of Cloud-based hosting or technology company. And nothing could be further from the truth. I have spent the bulk of my life pioneering technology to enable much of it. And as I tell my kids and those around me, technology is neither good nor evil. I have yet to meet a corrupt technology, no matter how good the AI might be getting.


These days, however, I continue to invest my time and energy into Edge Computing and Storage. More specifically, I am investing in creating technologies and solutions that are Decentralized. Now, a little while back, I had to brief my investors on what I called "the three Ds"-- 1) Disaggregated, 2) Distributed, and 3) Decentralized. They sound similar. In fact, most people in my profession use these terms interchangeably but they mean very different things.


My company makes a unique solution. I say it's unique because as I write this, there really isn't another company doing similar things, despite what the arrogance of the VCs might say. We make data center solutions for the everyday business and individual. They don't have to know about networking or security or even best practices for scaling applications. Our Marketplace does all of this and more with a single click. It's a lot like Amazon, if Amazon were owned and operated by the sum of its customers. We strive to produce a solution that requires little to no coding by the customer. In the end, they have their own cloud solution that they own, they host, they control. But this does not make it decentralized. It simply means there is no central kill switch, authority, or censorship.


Our Marketplace is designed as a cooperative or federated portal. What this means is that it is not centrally hosted by us, but rather, by our customers. As new software projects or products are added to it, they're shared with all of the many instances of the Marketplace, much like you would expect a distributed catalog to be shared and updated. If any one instance were to be corrupted or disabled, the whole will still function. And it is in this notion of the whole is comprised of the sum of all the many instances that makes this solution decentralized.


Now, there are many reasons for designing such a solution. And certainly ideology is impossible to completely dismiss. However, my reasons for this endeavor might be quite different from my colleagues, investors, or even my customers. I do what I do because I really cannot help but do anything else. With that said, there is a very pragmatic reason why I favor the approach we've taken over others'. The amount of data to manage is massive and only increasing every day. If we try to centralize the data in a 3rd party cloud we cannot help but add latencies and other complications. Think of the backhaul represented by a fleet of thousands of vehicles uploading video and sensor data to a centralized cloud. How many terabytes per day or petabytes per month would be represented?


Edge compute is more than a buzz word. The idea is to actually process the data where it is produced or gathered-- as close to the action as possible. But for most companies, this term is synonymous with "edge acquisition". The data is only gathered from the Edge and then sent to some centralized cloud for analysis. What they are doing is the antithesis of the term they've hijacked.


Anyway, I do not expect most people to really resonate with my position on any of this. I am okay with going against the grain. I stand for choice. There are those looking for a choice that is different from the status quo Cloud hosting. And they can have their unique reason for wanting to be different, to do something different. That's who I am catering to.

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