Spotlight Series: Digital Industry: Changing the Cloud Compute Paradigm
This series highlights the key insights and lessons from our Digital Leadership series of podcasts. We spotlight the important takeaways from our interviews in an accessible format. The following insights come from Antonio Pellegrino, CEO and Founder of Mutable. Stay tuned for the full podcast interview with Antonio, in the meantime, take a look at our full library of podcasts.
Our guest today is Antonio Pellegrino, Founder and CEO of Mutable. Pelle, as he’s known, has been involved in several ventures since Co-Founding his first computer services company at the age of sixteen. Recognizing the central role that Edge computing would play in 5G, he launched Mutable in 2017.
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got to where you are today.
I started out working in coding quite early, so in that regard, I actually did everything in High School, everything from robotics to gaming, and building a streaming site for gaming. Creating EUF which was a broadcasting company for eSports during 2007 all the way up to 2011. It was really an immense effort with 30 people throughout the world, and in that regard essentially working with servers and everything back then, I kept on feeling the need myself of basically creating tools to help build all the ideas that were in my head. In that regard I ended up shifting from streaming video, over to developer tools, making tools to help me build my own things that I’d been building, and then all these companies around me going through NYU, the Engineering School, they all need help building what they were doing as well, and create a company focused on more or less the cloud.
In that process we realized that one of the customers was really geared towards wireless charging for cars, as crazy as that sounds, and in order to pull that off they need to compute everywhere, and we wanted to make sure we were able to do that. So that’s when we created Mutable in order to focus on trying to find compute everywhere so you can run applications everywhere, but not have to actually physically have them everywhere yourself; create like an Airbnb for servers, making a Public Edge Cloud.
Interesting stuff, and quite a journey. So how does your experience today inform your views on cloud computing and where it’s going?
Well by having these differences of backgrounds from robotics to streaming video, and IoT, it really made a lot of sense of what I was doing, to figure out how do I take the knowledge of pain-points that I had during those times, and apply it to all these companies that are sprouting up to solve these problems like AR/VR, gaming, and all this stuff. I realized that in order to pull that off, what needed to happen was compute more locally, and that’s where we really made that shift to go in that direction.
Maybe talk a little bit about the difference between, say, Public Edge Cloud and Public Cloud in general, which everybody knows about. But what is Public Edge Cloud, and how is it different?
We had our own identifier for Edge, and the reason for it is, in the Public Cloud it is the idea of using other people’s servers, and for the most part that is mainly the three hyper-scalers, its Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and they’re centralized in basically different parts of the world. But we’re talking usually about usually hundreds, if not thousands of miles away from wherever the people are, and devices that are using it, versus, when we talk about the edge, we’re talk about the network edge, we’re talking about cable companies, telco companies, we’re talking about 25 miles away from your home. Think of it like you’re using Amazon and you’re buying something, and you’re getting it from a warehouse, versus going to your corner store and being able to pick something up right there when you need it. That’s really what we’re trying to push forward.
A lot of organizations, businesses, and individuals are accessing data from these cloud services, from AWS, Google, and Microsoft. Why does anybody need this edge cloud service, and what kinds of organizations need it?
What we realized is this is really about three pillars. Things that really focus on latency, trying to bring things snappier and faster, for example, gaming. Anything to do with IoT where you’re basically collecting massive amounts of data, and having to have something sift through the data, get a response right away, and have a control loop. Think of a factory, think of drones going around, all these types of things, you have this constant feedback loop.
Bandwidth, so think of recording video everywhere, let’s say you’re in a factory and you have a whole bunch of cameras looking around, in order to judge what’s going on, or outside at an oil pipeline or whatever it may be. Basically, taking that video feed, uploading it, and doing image recognition right away, all these types of things require a massive amount of bandwidth. Transporting that all the way to the cloud, that costs a lot of money, it also takes too long to be actionable.
And then the last being security. When we talk about security, we’re talking about trying to do things before it ever reaching the internet. What that means is if you have cameras and devices, and everything out in the field, or inside of buildings, and then you have transporting it all the way to the cloud, usually that means you’re going over the general internet. The internet can be a scary thing, it’s not a straight line going from you to a massive datacenter, but it is a straight line typically to go from you to your internet provider. Being able to run this style compute inside of that facility ensures that it doesn’t reach the internet, its inside the safe firewall that more or less you control, and that’s really a lot of what we tend to work with on the security side.
Is there anything else with respect to cybersecurity that separates or distinguishes Public Edge Cloud, versus just Public Cloud?
The other big thing is if we’re doing compute inside of your environment, especially if an internet provider is providing your SD-WAN, which is your software defined networking and has the global firewall rules for the whole company, and we’re inside of it. We’re able to make sure that everything is completely walled off based off of your standards, and it’s essentially on-prem without having to be on-prem, so you get all the benefits of the security of being on-prem, with having the compute that’s right nearby. By working with the cable and telecom companies, and the private networking companies, there’s a bunch of those spinning up where you can create your own private LTE, and 5G and all that kind of stuff, we’re definitely able to provide that kind of thing on top.
I want to come back to the characteristics of an organization that would benefit from Public Cloud compute, again on the end-user side, because this is something that our listeners would start to be thinking about, “Is this something that I can use?” “How can I use it?”. From your perspective, if you were to breakdown the characteristics of an organization that could use it, or even needs it, to run their applications or to help run their business, what would that be?
Think of things that typically are running on device or on-premise, that are either wickedly expensive, or need to have certain parameters in order to be performing enough, and that’s the reason why you did it in the first place. Things that are running that are secure, that are meant to be internal, all those types of things can now get all the benefits of the cloud, without actually being thousands of miles away. Think of as I was saying before, cameras that you already now have in your businesses, that can be converted into smart cameras, and that mean they can see what parking spots are available, see things that are supposed to be monitored 24/7, and if there’s any change in what’s going on, instantly being able to monitor that change, report it and sometimes have something automatically go there to check it out.
You know what that brings to mind to me is, government and public safety and things like emergency response, dealing with natural disasters, you’ve got to capture a lot of information, and get a lot of information at the point of activity, which is always challenging. In those scenarios you hear about networks going down, communication, not just verbal communication, but that means data communication. Do you think this is something that can be useful if that regard, in those kinds of scenarios?
Yes, one of the actual great use cases of all this is, you have to think a lot of this world is becoming machine-to-machines, less of humans telling machines what to do. Right now, we’re at the speed of humans telling machines what to do, and in this case be able to make them just freely talk to each other and provide us connectivity means network monitoring, identifying threats and acting on it right away, and that could be in the network, that could be data threats.
For example, there’s initiative right now of monitoring the electrical grid. If you monitor the electrical grid you will actually see in real time all these natural disasters come through, tornados or whatever else, and see how things go down and come back up, and constantly target where or secure where you predict the next event is going to happen, as storms roll through. So, all these things become very important in planning and reacting in real time, versus you get a recording after the fact and being like, ‘Oh, okay that’s what happened’. It’s like catching someone in the act, versus ‘Oh that guy’s wearing a hoody, I couldn’t figure out who he was, so oops, that recording is not very helpful’.
What’s the future of this technology? Where are we going from here? It’s early days in terms of the use of it and the opportunities, but where do you see the future of this going? Are there technology changes coming down the pipe that are not here yet but will impact it?
As I was leaning towards earlier, the way that I see this is, we end up in a world where we all carry around a glass plate, everything is streamed to us, and essentially everything is interchangeable, but personalized; from being in an airport and walking down the hall, everything pops up is related to you, to essentially the environment around you reacting to what’s going on. So, what that means is, just a simple thing like VR, we see VR as this futuristic thing that we’ve been trying to pull off for the last 30 years or more, and it still isn’t there yet, and why? The main reason why is because of how much will it cost for anyone to get access to it. You have to be tethered around with the computer in order to pull it off, to have a good quality experience.
So, if we can actually run the VR experience off onto these servers nearby, you can actually have this experience where essentially you get maybe a $300 pair of glasses, and you can use them anywhere, and no matter where you are, over wireless, over Wi-Fi. Being able to have that experience that changes the whole paradigm of being more like a Game Boy, where you can use it anywhere you need, versus something that’s like an appliance, it’s kind of fixed in your home.
You started by talking about people walking down the street, through an airport or whatever, things popping up based on them, of course that raises the thing that everybody talks about this day which is data privacy. What are your views on that, and how it’s going to impact how this all evolves?
Privacy is interesting because we’re starting this world of GDPR and the California regulation which is going to expand throughout the US and Canada, I’m sure. All this is about is data sovereignty, meaning you own this data, and the data is controlled and managed by you, versus a third party accessing it, managing it, keeping that and doing whatever they want with it. The way you have the sovereignty is to keep the data close and to keep it managed by you, so that’s the real premise with these localized computes that we’re doing. To be able to focus on how we make sure not to just keep this data countrywide or regionwide where it is today, but how do we have this compute maybe statewide, or even citywide, and bring it as close as possible to you. So that when there’s a breach, it isn’t a breach of millions upon millions of people, but a breach of maybe 10 or 100, which really changes the threat pattern of someone trying to steal the data, or someone trying to use that for marketing purposes or whatnot.
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