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Former Apcera co-founder and CEO Derek Collison is working on a new startup involving secure messaging between cloud deployments. (Apcera Photo)

One of the important contributors to the early years of cloud computing, Apcera co-founder and CEO Derek Collison, sold his remaining stake in Apcera last year and is now working on a new startup based around messaging technology he invented on the side earlier this decade.

Telco giant Ericsson, which purchased a majority stake in Apcera in 2014, now owns all of the company, Collison said in an interview Wednesday. Over the last year or so, it became clear to Apcera, Ericsson and Collison that Apcera was fighting an uphill battle trying to get its cloud management platform in front of customers who are quickly getting used to the idea that container management software should be free, as Docker and Kubernetes gain traction, he said.

That means Apcera’s platform is likely headed down a telco-friendly path, Collison said, as Ericsson takes control of technology development and strategy. Collison left in December after a transition period, and Apcera was pretty quiet in the second half of 2017. An Ericsson representative, who is apparently looking for a flashlight like everybody else that attended CES today, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

NATS, an open-source project that Collison developed at Apcera, is the technology behind his new five-person venture called Synadia. The company is staying quiet as it works toward closing a Series A funding round next month, but the technology — already in use at large companies like Baidu and Siemens — allows infrastructure components to communicate with each other across multiple clouds, which theoretically avoids the dreaded vendor lock-in enterprise computing scenario.

Call it a “digital dial tone for software and devices,” Collison said, referring to how our telephones can all communicate with each other thanks to a shared global network. NATS would like to be that layer atop enterprise computing deployments, making it easier and more secure for applications to communicate across networks.

He predicted that the rise of edge computing will create a lot demand for such a product. Edge computing refers to an emerging trend in which more and more computing power is moving out of the data center and onto smart connected devices, especially when it comes to things like the industrial internet.

“Edge computing is going to dwarf cloud computing by orders of magnitude in 10 years,” Collison said.

We’ll have to see about that, but Collison has been at the heart of several technology trends over the last decade. At Google, he helped design and develop a suite of APIs that were used as part of some Google’s first outreach to external developers back in the mid-2000s, and later at VMware he led the group that created Cloud Foundry, the popular application-deployment software now maintained by VMware sister company Pivotal and available through the Cloud Foundry Foundation.

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