GNARBOX at the Edge:
Adventures in New Markets

Co-founder and CEO Tim Feess took some time to sit down and write a bit about how GNARBOX’s unique history has led us to new markets, and where we see our technology going forward.

Posted by: Tim Fees - Co-Founder & CEO | March 30, 2021

A Bit of History

Like many other tech companies in their early days, GNARBOX started out in a garage. When we founded the company in 2014, we knew that the technology and stack we were building would be capable of far more than the initial application for which it was marketed — editing GoPro videos. Nearly three years later, GNARBOX was firmly established as the market leading backup device for the pro photo and video market, expanding its reach to all cameras. Despite our origins in photography and filmmaking, we designed our hardware and software for a wide variety of data management use cases.

At the end of the day, the origin of data doesn’t matter to a computer like GNARBOX, whether it’s data being collected off a photographer’s camera, a power-line inspector’s drone, or a sensor at an industrial site — it’s all data in need of storage, processing and upload/backhaul from the location of capture, also known as the Edge. Having already solved some of the most challenging problems of creating powerful and ruggedized hardware that can run server-like software while operating in a resource constrained environment, we are now broadening our focus beyond just media to the realm of all data.

New Frontiers in Data Management

Today, we’re excited to announce our entry into the edge computing industry with two new products: the GNARBOX 2.0 Drone Edition, due out in 3Q21, and the GNARBOX Edge Compute Platform, currently available for trial implementations.

GNARBOX 2.0 Drone Edition is designed for the enterprise drone market, particularly for customers in law enforcement, transportation, agriculture and insurance. The Drone Edition will help these customers modernize and streamline their data management workflow, allowing them to save time and increase the security of their data chain.

The GNARBOX Edge Compute Platform is designed for organizations implementing IoT (Internet of Things) sensors and gathering data at the edge, which allows them to generate insights that help save time and money, and increase operational efficiency. The Edge Compute Platform is the first rugged, mobile, and online/offline capable Edge as a Service (EaaS) solution on the market. It seamlessly integrates with sensors, unmanned equipment and other industrial machines in dynamic environments. The platform includes an ecosystem of hardware appliances and a server software platform that makes it incredibly simple to deploy any application in a container.

The Tech

From the beginning, we built our software stack with a container-based architecture, allowing for GNARBOX’s capabilities to easily be expanded by new software. We understand the DevOps processes, tool-chains and pipelines customers are using in their edge solutions because we use them ourselves. This in-house expertise allows us to provide support and engineering assistance to organizations across the industries we serve in a way other OEMs simply can’t.

On top of that, our modernized DevOps pipeline was designed to allow us to expand offerings to new applications — whether that meant GNARBOX internally developing new software packages or customers porting their own applications. With rapid adoption of containerization, particularly Kubernetes, occurring in the edge market, we firmly believe that containers will be the future of edge, and that we are well positioned to lead in that space.

Our tech stack isn’t the only thing we meticulously architected; we also built our organization to support these kinds of lateral moves into new markets where we see growth opportunities. Internally, our Product Development department consists of multiple Engineering/DevOps teams and our Marketing/Sales team is stacked with experts in each vertical we serve — photo/video, enterprise drone, and edge computing.

Where We’re Headed — New Markets

Over the last few years, the enterprise drone market has experienced significant innovations in hardware and software, which has opened the doors for a massive increase in Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (sUAV) and autonomous vehicle use in the enterprise space. In addition, updated FAA regulations around drones have led the market growth projection to double from last year, and it is now set to be worth $63.6b by 2025 (68% CAGR). Our expansion into the enterprise drone market was a natural one; there has been a historic progression from the use of drones in the media and entertainment industries to enterprise class sUAS operations, as exemplified by industry giant DJI. Due to the rapid growth of the drone industry, drone data chain and best practices are not yet standardized, which will become increasingly necessary as adoption scales. Our experience in data management workflows led us to partner with industry vets at Guinn Partners to author our new eBook, Digital Asset Management for UAV Programs, which will hopefully serve as an industry standard guide to help establish drone data chain and file management best practices.

The edge computing market is similarly experiencing explosive growth, although it is not yet as mature of a market as enterprise drone, with a projected value of $44.3b by 2024 (31% CAGR). As industrial organizations undergo digital transformation and leverage a growing array of cameras, drones, sensors, and other data collection devices to improve efficiency, many are not able to analyze, derive insight, and backhaul this information fast enough with the existing cloud-centric model. The central problem is the significant mismatch between the pace of data collection and network bandwidth, and the latest realization is that 5G networks will not completely alleviate this issue. Edge promises to solve this problem by collecting, processing and optionally backhauling data at the point of collection, thus alleviating the bottlenecks imposed by bandwidth for access to the cloud.

While organizations currently deploying edge appliances have used tools like virtualization or full bare metal operating systems to push their needed applications to the edge, it has become clear that these technologies are not long term solutions. In resource constrained environments, tightly managed workloads are crucial to optimize these systems. Unlike these legacy solutions, containerized applications allow organizations to optimize their workloads for the highest level of availability. We believe that container technologies like Kubernetes are key to unlocking the true power of edge computing, and our Edge Compute Platform is designed to take full advantage of the benefits containerization offers end users.

Currently, IT/OT professionals in organizations seeking to deploy edge solutions are burdened by repurposing data center hardware, or creating greenfield IT projects from scratch to meet edge computing demands. This not only wastes valuable time and resources, but introduces risk from issues with reliability, security, scalability, durability and performance. This also means that solutions are often complicated to deploy, and are particularly out of range for non-technical teams fielding devices at the edge. Unlike other OEMs in the market, we solve these challenges with the GNARBOX Edge Compute Platform by providing a turnkey hardware/software solution, with features like zero touch provisioning, rapid scaling, and cloud agnosticism or independence, all with enterprise level security. Our latest white paper 10 Problems of Edge Computing details how we were able to confront and overcome these challenges with our client Nanometrics, the world’s most trusted provider of seismic monitoring solutions.

We are very excited to be entering these new markets, learning from industry veterans, developing new partners and building products that we hope will help change the future of data management in enterprise and industrial environments. Expanding into new markets has always been our goal, and we look forward to seeing where this new adventure takes us. We would of course be remiss if we didn’t mention those who helped get us here — the professional photo and video community who has supported us and helped us grow over the last five years. We are excited to continue to support the creative community and our existing customers with new hardware and ever-evolving software.

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