Founder's Podcast with Roman Shaposhnik - Co-founder, VP Product and Strategy at ZEDEDA Inc.

Paul Barker | Feb 24, 2020 | The News

Edge computing, he says, not only represents the final frontier, but the ‘last refuge for the kind of people who still want to actually control their own destiny.’

Silicon Valley start-up Zededa has already received a sound endorsement from many industry observers including IDC, which describes its edge virtualization offering as compelling for three reasons – data at the edge is rapidly expanding, edge computing standards and frameworks are still being determined and enterprise edge strategies require new data management and security capabilities.

To be sure, the company has created an interesting product mix of proprietary elements and open-source software – more on that later -- and it all has to do with a group of experienced engineers that includes Roman Shaposhnik, one of its four co-founders.

A Zededa backgrounder states the trio had “had decades of experience, at Sun Microsystems, Cisco Systems, and other cloud and open source companies, in connecting places, people and most recently things, but we wanted to do more.

“We noticed things were changing; data at the edge is exploding not only from devices but more data from each device. All this data is highly distributed from different types of devices, different locations and different applications. The only way to harmonize all this diversity was to drive a standard, open source, cloud-native edge. This edge has to be highly efficient and different from previous generation of distributed computing -- this edge has to be virtualized.

“We founded Zededa focused on edge virtualization to deliver visibility, control and protection for IoT edge gateways, applications and networks at the enterprise edge as a cloud-based service.”

In an interview with ECA that took place at the recent Edge Computer World in Mountain View, Calif., Shaposhnik, was asked whether founders are wired differently.

“Its’s like the old analogy of pioneers, settlers and town planners -- you basically have three kinds of people, which is very much true. All three are absolutely needed, but I think founders are basically pioneers. You don’t have to be a founder of a company. You could be a founder of an open source project or a piece of technology or a visionary, but definitely it is a special set of people.

“What are the key differences: It is the desire to basically go where no man has gone before. You need to be driven and recognize where the proverbial puck is going and then there is being completely unsatisfied with the status quo, which is why I ended up in edge computing.”

For Shaposhnik, the fact is that edge computing represents the “final frontier.

“There are different views about what edge is. To me, edge is the last final cloud that we have to build. If you think about it, the entire IT industry is on this tremendous shift to move 80-90% of workloads into the cloud. When I say cloud, I don’t mean public cloud. It could be the same set of APIs you get from your IT department. It can still be a cloud-like set of APIs even though the servers belong to you and not a hyperscale provider like Google or Microsoft.

“In that sense, my view of the edge is that it is the last cloud that we haven’t built yet. Very simplistically, it is a set of computers that are not locked inside a data centre and all around us. But the set of APIs we need to give to those computers are the same set of APIs we expect for computers locked inside data centres whether they belong to Google or Morgan Stanley.

The key here? According to Shaposhnik, not only is it the last final cloud that needs to be built, it is the only cloud that will remain belonging to the people.

“Everything else will be absorbed by the hyperscalers. Back to the question of what makes founders different from ordinary people, If you want to have fun being an independent company and independent technologist, unless you are doing edge computing, your options from now on are joining Microsoft, Google … well you know the names.

“If you want to stay on your own, edge is the last refuge for the kind of people who still want to actually control their own destiny.”

To date, the company has already received an estimated US$20 million in funding, and there are really two sides within its product arsenal. The open source side of the equation is an operating system for edge computing that belongs to the Linux Foundation. “We are founding members of the LF Edge so anyone can take it, do whatever they want with it and help us develop it,” the co-founder says.

The proprietary piece is an edge virtualization software-as-a-service piece, Zededa says makes it possible to securely deploy any application, on any hardware, over any network, at the edge, that can operate autonomously - independent of the connectivity to the cloud or a corporate data centre.

As for what the future holds, Shaposhnik is confident, yet philosophical: “What sets founders apart from normal people is this constant ability to live in the uncertain shadow or twilight zone. Are we too early to the market or just in time? I hope we are just in time, but there is still a lot of education that needs to happen. I think it’s both.”