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Verizon Brings Thunder to the Cloud

Mitch Wagner
5/12/2014
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Verizon is building out its cloud infrastructure to appeal to customers looking to take advantage of the benefits of the cloud without having to abandon tried and true enterprise infrastructure.

Familiarity is key to Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s strategy. It wants enterprise customers to be able to bring familiar applications to the cloud, rather than starting from scratch.

"Instead of saying 'ditch everything you know and go to the new stuff,' we'll run the new stuff but also give you the ability blend your environment and use some of the technologies that you already have," says John Considine, CTO, Verizon Terremark.

Verizon's John Considine

To that end, Verizon is building out its cloud infrastructure fabric to accommodate enterprise customers with hybrid cloud services, a program announced in beta in October. (See Why Verizon Needed a Cloud Reboot.)

Verizon uses a fabric architecture, using modules built in partnership with SeaMicro Inc. , which is owned by Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD). Each module contains compute, storage, and SDN networking components, on a building-block chassis that provides availability, reliability, and connectivity. (See Defining SDN & NFV.)

Networking switches, meanwhile, are provided by Arista Networks Inc.

"These hardware components comprise the entire hardware infrastructure," Considine says. "Everything else is our own software and from partners, in terms of firewalls and other network apps. We do this to obtain global scalability and flexibility."

To support its services, Verizon has built data centers in seven locations: Culpepper, Va.; Miami, Fla.; Denver, Colo.; Santa Clara, Calif.; Sao Paolo, Brazil; London; and Amsterdam.

Built in-house
Verizon wrote the base platform software in-house, using Linux and other open source components. The storage stack is ZFS; Verizon wrote its own SDN and orchestration software. On top of that, Verizon works with partners to provide enterprise applications to customers, including:

  • F5 Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FFIV) for virtualized traffic management and security policy management.
  • NetApp Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) for virtualized storage.
  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) for its 11G and 12C database software, as well as its Fusion middleware.
  • Cloudera for analytics and Hadoop management.

"Our customers can come in and say, 'Get me one of those.' It can be anything from an Oracle template to Hadoop, and run them in our cloud," Considine says.

Verizon's infrastructure investment is a differentiator for the company, says Heavy Reading analyst Caroline Chappell. "The big thing that is different about Verizon is that it has gone out and invested very heavily in a new architecture and cloud infrastructure. It very strongly believes that, as a cloud provider, you have to innovate and do your own thing, and control it, just don't buy the standard cloud blocks from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW)." (See Can Cisco Help SPs Offer Cloud-based Apps? and Cisco's Cloud Bet: What's in It for SPs?)

The differentiator hasn't allowed Verizon to pull ahead in the marketplace -- at least not yet, Chappell says. "But Verizon is definitely one of the big contenders, and the US cloud market is one of the most advanced and competitive in the world. Verizon is making a big play to be a major dominant player in that market and around the world," she says.

And so the operator continues to develop its service offerings. In April, Verizon announced its Secure Cloud Interconnect (SCI) service to connect enterprise private networks into Verizon's and other providers' clouds. It's part of Verizon's overall strategy of allowing enterprises to run applications locally where they make sense, and in the cloud where that makes sense, Considine says. (See Verizon Connects Cloud With On-Demand WAN.)

Next page: Taking on Amazon

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Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/27/2014 | 10:45:53 AM
Sounds promising
It's true about cloud services. Customers get what they get and must find the right path to create what they need. The Verizon approach sounds more flexible and customer-centric. Exciting stuff!
Atlantis-dude
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Atlantis-dude,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/23/2014 | 1:23:30 AM
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