Redefining Edge Computing

The global edge computing market is forecasted to reach $8.96 billion by the year 2023, increasing at a compound annual growth rate of approximately 32.6% from 2019. But who can win the edge race? Natalie Bannerman meets Axellio.

The need to bring data processing closer to the end user in order to reduce latency and improve user experience, has become the cornerstone for innovations like the internet of things and a key use case for next-gen technologies like 5G.

One company making a name for itself in this edge computing space is start-up Axellio. Natalie Bannerman speaks to its CEO, Bill Miller about how the company solving the problems unique to this niche and how edge is fast becoming the future of the data centre and cloud sector.

How did you got started with Axellio?

We are a little bit unique as a start up in the sense that we are a spin-off of a company that has been around for a while.

There was a company that our Axellio team had been with for a while called X-IO Technologies and then eventually this was spun off into Axellio. This company was in the enterprise data storage systems space from 1997 and we actually launched the programme within X-IO technologies to develop the capabilities set that Axellio now offers.

Then almost about 18 months ago we sold our X-IO technology data storage systems business to another enterprise data storage system company called Violin. Axellio is a start-up but it is a derivative of a business that has been sold.

What sets Axellio apart from its competitors?

The problem space that Axellio focuses on is edge competing systems, which have very different requirements than data centre and cloud infrastructure.

Some of those requirements are around space, weight, power and portability, as well as being able to configure them to deal with different environments, different network and communications infrastructures.
We are currently finishing the development of a system under contract with the US air force for a dense and very configurable computing infrastructure system that actually fits into a case the size of a regulation carry-on piece of luggage. It is the ability to take your data centre with you in a suitcase, put it on the overhead on an airline and set it up when you land, which is amazing.

Then the other area that we are really focused on is the security and network operations space. We now have a unique architecture that we use that allows you to capture and store full packet capture all packets and then index them as you are capturing them. Then you can run sophisticated analytics under the same system, which allows you to, for example, hunt for threats, cyber-attacks etc.

How do you see the infrastructure market evolving over the next 5-10 years?

Most of the growth and innovation in the last decade, has been largely driven by the migration of infrastructure to the cloud. I actually think the next 10 or even 20 years will be largely driven by the emerging need for more infrastructure at the edge.

This is being driven by things like 5G and the internet of things, smart autonomous devices and there are all these things that we are going to be doing that require the computing and the storage and capture of data to be away from the cloud data centres.


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What has been your biggest obstacle so far and how did you overcome that?

Certainly for us, having sold our enterprise data storage business, which was a larger business and having a good part of our team go with that transaction and being left with a smaller team that we had to reorganise and run like a start-up, has caused a shift in the way we operate and in the culture of the company. That has probably been our biggest challenge over the last 18 months or so, but I think we feel pretty good right now having made that transition.

We are really starting to operate like a start-up company that is bringing new products to the marketplace and innovating. We are going to have to
grow so certainly a challenge that we have ahead of us is finding talent and organising that talent around the problems that we are trying to solve and the markets we are addressing.

How much have you raised in funding, and what do you plan to do
with that investment?

We are a little bit unique in this sense as well because we came out of an existing business that we sold, and we actually used the proceeds of that sale put on our balance sheet to finance the development of Axellio. We also kept and bought with us a lot of assets that were in the prior company that were not sold. If I look at the value of the assets that we kept plus the proceeds that we got it is tens of millions in value.

We really haven’t had to raise additional funding as a result of having had the capital of the transaction and the assets that we kept, but in terms of what we are doing with it – we are beginning to scale up.

We are still investing in product and market development and building those customer relationships in those niches and we are having to invest a lot in building our operational capability to serve the requirement of those customers so I wouldn’t be surprised if we needed to raise some additional capital in the future to finance kind of more rapid acceleration of the market niches that we are proving out and beginning to grow faster.

What is the roadmap for the company over the next 12 months?

There are two. One is to complete this contract that we have with the air force to build this product that we call FX-BLOX and this is the data centre in a suitcase portable system, so we will complete that over the course of the year and we will deliver that to our defence customers. The second priority is really to bring our packet capture analytic solutions more broadly to market.

We have a few key core customers that are deploying those solutions today and we have been working with our customers to learn a lot about their requirements and expand on that in the product to meet those requirements. We will be bringing that to the market for more efficient high-speed packet capture analytics over the course of this year.

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