Interview

Verizon cloud services serve as IT computing launch pad

Kate Gerwig

Verizon's cloud-based Computing as a Service (CaaS) solution is the provider's much-anticipated usage-based computing service for enterprise customers, which it

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hopes will make telecom-provided cloud services a reality. Verizon's CaaS serves as a baseline computing platform that can layer on top additional IT services, including security, backup and restore, application acceleration, content delivery, and application management.

Following Verizon's CaaS rollout -- which is currently available to U.S. and European enterprises out of the provider's Beltsville, Md., server farm -- Joseph Crawford, Verizon Business's executive director of product management and development for IT management solutions, talked to SearchTelecom.com about what the company hopes is an emerging cloud services trend.

Why did Verizon decide to roll out Computing as a Service?

Joseph Crawford: Customers are asking service providers to deliver network and IT technology as a service instead of a standard-price one-size-fits-all in order to better match the costs they are incurring for the services being provided. It brings the ability to pay for what you use to the enterprise in a secure and utility-like fashion.

Are other cloud services going to follow?

Crawford: We view Computing as a Service as a baseline service in order to layer other services on top, like backup and restore to tape and disk, application acceleration, content delivery and application management, in which we run the application for a customer. We can layer that service on top of this platform. We are layering other security services on top of this offering. It's kind of a platform as a service.

Service providers have talked usage-based services for a long time. Why might it really happen this time?

Crawford: Part of the reason is that customers are looking for a lower-cost delivery model. We built CaaS with enterprise security in mind. Enterprises also want visibility and transparency, and we built that into the offering from the very beginning. The solution is Verizon's intellectual property, and inside we're using HP hardware and software, Cisco, Brocade and 3PAR hardware, VMware, Microsoft and Red Hat.

Will this be an up-sell for existing Verizon customers or a new customer offering?

Crawford: We view this as addressing both markets. We think it's an up-sell for our existing customers when they have a new application or environment or want some flexibility in adding to an environment. It also gives us the ability to speak to new customers that have not outsourced compute resources in the past because they need seasonal resources or they have staging and development needs.

How do potential customers weigh whether it's worth buying equipment themselves or outsourcing it from you?

Crawford: Three years is the general amount of acceptable use for new hardware amortization. Customers tell us they could use resources that they only have to pay for when they need them for shorter-term development. Do you think large enterprises will use CaaS for special purposes?
Three years is the general amount of acceptable use for new hardware amortization. Customers tell us they could use resources that they only have to pay for when they need them for shorter-term development.

Do you think large enterprises will use CaaS for special purposes?

Crawford: It's a horizontal solution, so we think it will touch on the very large enterprise and other companies as well. A key point is the reporting and the ability to charge back internal groups inside a large enterprise. When you talk to central IT groups, they view this capability as empowering them with information in order to charge back to internal groups.

Where is the service physically available now?

Crawford: We have this implemented in our Beltsville, Md., server farm. The next place is in Amsterdam. There is a shared Private IP node in each facility. We have tentative plans to deploy more CaaS environments in 2010.

Does it matter where the customer is located?

Crawford: It doesn't matter where the servers are located for the customer to gain access to the service, but it does matter that the customer knows where the servers are and the policies set against those servers. We tell them exactly where the servers are, and we share our security policies.

What kind of connections do you think most customers will use -- private IP services or the public Internet?

Crawford: We think it will be both. A key differentiator we have is that there's a shared Verizon Private IP connection in the data center in Beltsville, Md., and we'll have one in every subsequent place we launch this.


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