The Seamster History
by Jason Hoffman, MobiledgeX
2020 is a watershed year for MobiledgeX with the introduction of Seamster and our B round of funding. It turns out they are related. Here’s the story in brief.
MobiledgeX was created by Deutsche Telekom (DT) in 2018 after an internal study determined that “edge computing” would bring value to mobile operators. MobiledgeX was created as an independent company because it was clear to DT that the mobile edge would have greatest value if harmonized globally with many participating operators and all other “edges”. Two years later, what’s equally clear is that MobiledgeX can’t accomplish its mission by itself; in addition to building a federation of mobile operator partners, we needed to be part of a larger “edge” application ecosystem as well. That’s one reason for the additional investors in the B round — it’s clearly not just DT anymore — and that’s the motivation behind the creation of Seamster.
Here’s a little more about how we reached that seminal conclusion. It is obvious that the edge is basically about performance. Services delivered near to a connected device could have higher performance because of the better network connection (e.g., latency and bandwidth), especially with the introduction of 5G technology and converged fixed and wireline cores. So we started working with the application and service builder community to better understand the edge market opportunity, and to find and nurture the early applications that would be the edge pioneers, the ones for whom edge performance would be the enabling key.
In doing this, two important details about performance became apparent. First, performance is a disruptive change, meaning that you have to design it into an application to get the full benefit (just like you have to adapt an application to take advantage of the disruptive computational power of a modern GPU). The more important insight is that most existing cloud applications don’t improve dramatically in performance if you run them at the edge simply because they are designed assuming (and tolerating) a low performance connection.
Second, it’s not just about a mobile or telecom edge, and while there are a lot of “edges”, there’s really just one edge. We are all well served by realizing that devices connect to an edge and the edge connects to the cloud, and there are two situations: one where you need device plus edge plus cloud and another is the past where device and cloud was sufficient. Seamster is committed to a unifying definition of edge and developers who need the device, the edge and clouds to work seamlessly together. Our target developer is one that is willing to bet on disruptively better performance, so our mission has to be to assure they get that performance. Sometimes the right answer is the telecom edge, but sometimes it might be the “on-premise” edge running in an existing data center or some other location specific resource. Our mission has to be inclusive with all edges — all locations that offer disruptive performance.
So here we are, two years in, with much more clarity. We’ve constructed partner ecologies both the operator and builder sides of our business, and we’ve created Seamster to encourage a broad and open discussion about how to exploit the edge — all edges.
We want Seamster to be “open source for marketing.” I have experience with the power of open source and community development for software from my involvement in and observation of Wordpress, Textpattern, Ruby On Rails, SmartOS and node.js efforts that we nurtured back at Joyent, and that unquestionably played an important role in our early success. The strange essence of open source in the highly competitive tech world is that you give up important things (control over software and the engineers creating it) for the potential of greater good through a community you have no direct control over.
Open source clearly works for code, can it work for gaining market understanding as well? Our hope is that an open sharing of insights and observations, starting with our own, will accelerate the identification of the “killer apps” that will catalyze the formation and growth of the edge market as a whole, and that rising tides will float all boats. We’ve seeded Seamster with a lot of the learning from the last two years and from the Deutsche Telekom effort that preceded it. We did our best to create a “mental model” — a conceptual framework — for the edge that is to the point but remains open and inclusive. We’re recruiting some of our ecology partners to join and co-sponsor. Now the rest is up to the community. Our fingers are crossed and we’re hopeful.
Edge Visionaries Welcomed!
Take action and help drive the edge computing conversation inside Seamster. Use Seamster as an opportunity to engage with like-minded people, promote common interests, and leverage new findings. Your input could help drive next-generation experiences!