Verizon's new, expanded SDN-based Secure Cloud Interconnect service reinforced one basic principle of virtualization that can't be overlooked: It relies heavily on physical connections. (See Verizon Expands Reach of Secure Cloud Interconnect .)
That may seem like a simplistic concept but it's still an important one. In order to expand SCI into Latin America and to reach further into North America, EMEA and the Asia-Pacific, Verizon Enterprise Solutions had to first build out physical infrastructure in data centers around the globe, to enable the virtual connectivity that will allow its customers to easily connect to the wide range of cloud partners they seek, including Amazon Web Services, Google, HP, Microsoft Azure, Salesforce.com and, of course, Verizon's own cloud. (See Verizon Connects Cloud With On-Demand WAN.)
"That is the interesting thing -- you can't virtualize photons, you still have to virtualize the network," says Victoria Lonker, director of enterprise networking products for Verizon Enterprise Solutions. "Once that is done, if enterprises have Verizon's Private IP service today, they can set up SCI connections in less than 15 minutes and the network is already there."
For that to happen the network has to exist and physical data center locations, a total of 30 operated by Equinix Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX), CoreSite or Verizon, have to be established and built out. Verizon has done that for the various cloud providers in the following locations:
- Amazon Web Services Inc. : Sao Paulo; Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and New York; Singapore, Sydney, and Tokyo; London and Frankfurt, Germany
- Google (Nasdaq: GOOG): Chicago and Denver; and Hong Kong and Singapore
- HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ): Atlanta (2); and Frankfurt and Russelsheim, Germany
- Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Azure ExpressRoute and Microsoft ExpressRoute for Office 365: Silicon Valley, Washington, D.C.; London; Hong Kong and Sydney
- Salesforce.com Inc. : Chicago and San Jose, Calif.
- Verizon Cloud: Sao Paulo; Culpeper, Va., Denver, Miami; and Santa Clara, Calif.; and London and Amsterdam.
"We also onboard the partners by creating the necessary physical connectivity to that partner's cloud," Lonker notes. All of that is in support of Verizon Enterprise Solution's new focus -- its mantra, as she calls it -- which is to "connect users to applications simply, securely and reliably," over either Verizon's private IP network or its private 4G network, through the Secure Cloud Interconnect service.
With this announcement, Verizon is essentially saying it has done the complex work behind the scenes that will enable those simple, secure and reliable connections across a broad global footprint. In a separate announcement, Verizon said it is now also supporting FedRAMP-certified cloud platforms delivered by Verizon and Microsoft. These are specialized connections that allow the federal government, which requires segregation of its network traffic, to use Verizon's SCI service, Lonker says. SCI is now part of the Networx contracting process, which means US government agencies can order these services under the umbrella contract provisions.
Having completed the major geographic expansion, with a few exceptions to be announced later this year, Verizon is now focusing on adding cloud partners beyond the top group, which is already part of the SCI mix, Lonker says. These are niche players to which its customers want connections and customer demand will determine who gets added.
"They want us to provide connectivity to a variety of cloud operators -- customers are starting to say they don't want to put their eggs in one basket," she comments. "So we will be announcing in 2016 the addition of other cloud partners and looking at other architecture options to do that. We want to leverage the technology and our data center partners to provide access to a wide range of cloud providers, for software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service, the whole scope of what is available."
One possibility for change is moving away from the typical customer hub with multiple spokes up to cloud providers, Lonker explains. "Some of our customers want to do it the other way around," she says. "So we envision new offerings that we are going to bring that help them leverage different costs and different times, depending on the time things need to be moved."
What Verizon is seeing is that customers are moving workloads into the cloud in different ways than originally anticipated, and that is leading to this different network architecture and different uses of IP addresses, according to Lonker.
"How they are architecting VPNs [virtual private networks] within MPLS is different," she says, and customers are taking different approaches to network address translation as well.
The ability to respond to public demand still comes back to having built a flexible SDN-based architecture across a global physical footprint, something Verizon says it has largely done, making this week's announcement a truly significant one.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading