The Open Edge — Open19 Foundation Members Innovating with Edge Projects

What is the edge, anyway?

The edge can be defined as any field-serviceable location away from large centralized data centers, where server infrastructure is placed closer to the edge of the network to increase network performance, reduce latency and lower cost. This could be a containerized data center at the base of a cell tower, a server closet in a large office building basement, or computers controlling robotics on a factory floor. 

The Open19 Project Specification centers around standardized equipment form factors – including cages, connectors, cables, power shelves and network switches – and is designed to ease deployment and maintenance of infrastructure, as well as ensure a hands-off stable system. Servers and other compute equipment — called “bricks” — are mounted inside mechanical cages installed in standard 19-inch IT racks. 

The Open19 design is particularly well-suited to edge locations as it simplifies the installation and operational aspect of edge environments, reducing costs dramatically. Additionally, the standard allows for extremely efficient capital deployment, separating the rack level infrastructure (cages, power shelf, cables, etc) from the compute nodes — which is critical for large scale distributed footprints.

The cable system at the rear of the chassis is another aspect that makes the Open19 design ideal for edge deployments as the Open19 cable and connector assembly features plug-and-play functionality that combines power and networking. This arrangement is particularly important for distributed edge environments that need to lower the complexity, time, and cost for field service operations.

By offering a completely standardized and interchangeable compute brick, Open19 enables a technician to arrive at an edge location and swap a chassis in minutes, without knowing the details of the compute or rack infrastructure. Deploying Open19 in edge locations means that data center owners benefit from the efficiencies of a standardized truck roll with existing inventory, eliminating the high cost of large truck rolls, rebuilds and redesigns, as well new efficiencies gained at remote edge computing locations.

The following are three Open19 Specification-based edge projects developed by Foundation member companies, Packet, Vapor IO, and Flex.


As a leading operator of cloud and edge computing, Packet saw the need to create a high-availability switch solution that leverages the Open19 cable and connector specification. The “bring-your-own-switch” feature takes advantage of the standardized Open19 infrastructure specification in edge locations, while enabling network opinion for Packet’s carrier edge use cases. Packet has also innovated INSIDE the brick, with features that are a direct reflection of cloud-native customers. Scale-out workloads prefer more, but smaller, blocks of compute. Packet’s AMD EPYC 3000 and Intel Xeon E-2200 microservers fill the gap in the Open19 compute portfolio by creating “tiny but mighty” bare metal compute nodes.

Vapor IO

As one of the co-founding members of Open19, Vapor IO has been an advocate of using the Open19 sleds and chassis to reduce the cost and complexity of field servicing for edge data centers. Edge data centers, by nature, are remote and benefit significantly by being easily serviceable through existing technician networks. For example, there are networks of technicians that can field service telephone equipment but are not trained in replacing IT equipment in standard datacenters. An Open19 configuration makes it so that a technician with only a couple of hours of training can easily swap systems in or out.


Flex built on its experience as the first designer and manufacturer of Open19 infrastructure, to become the global integrator of choice for Open19 solutions. Flex brings a global manufacturing and integration footprint, supply chain excellence and a world-class manufacturing capability to deliver custom rack-level Open19 solutions to customers.

These solutions include the Flex 12 Brick Cage, Flex Network Switch, and Skylake and Broadwell server bricks. View the Open19 Marketplace for details. 

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