CHICAGO -- Light Reading's Big Telecom Event -- While security fears about cloud computing are legitimate, they also serve as an excuse to avoid change, according to John Considine, CTO, Verizon Terremark.
Security is a concern for enterprises contemplating the cloud, and some of that is valid, Considine said during a keynote here today.
"But it's also being used very broadly as a reason not to do something," he said. "I have a lot of challenges when people say, 'Let me find all the reasons I can't do something.' "
Some enterprises fear the cloud is dangerous and should be avoided. And yet even the biggest banks, airlines, and retail operations have been doing IT hosting, managed services, and co-location for years. "Now that it's cloud, somehow it's a little more scary," Considine said.
Considine tries to change the conversation from security to risks. To protect physical security, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s data centers are surrounded by berms, with servers in cages watched over by armed guards, "so you're not worried about someone walking in there."
As for cyber intrusion, Verizon employs security software, certified staff, penetration testing, and other counter-measures.
Users are worried about losing control. But businesses are already using cloud for services such as document sharing, email, and CRM. "A lot of this stuff is already out there and you've actually built in processes and controls to manage it." Verizon provides security services, both by itself and with partners, to help customers secure data in the cloud better than they can on their own.
Enterprise IT faces a Catch-22 when it comes to innovation. On the one hand, IT is tasked with operations, which requires avoiding change to reduce risk, Considine told us. Email outages and other problems start people screaming and prove disastrous. "The whole company grinds to a halt, you lose millions of dollars a minute." So IT is best playing it safe.
On the other hand, with the consumerization of IT and other trends, IT is required to foster innovation and work faster, according to Considine.
The cloud can break the Catch-22 by solving connectivity and security issues, leaving space for IT to innovate, he said.
In the past, business units went around IT to deploy the cloud, a process called "shadow IT," Considine said. That continues to be done. "But the IT departments are now heavily involved in cloud computing. An easy way to gauge that is to look at how much hybrid cloud computing has moved to the forefront of the discussion."
Hybrid clouds started by combining on-premises resources with cloud applications. But it's more than that now, noted Considine. It's evolved to mean moving the data center to the cloud, and then multiple data centers in multiple clouds, including Salesforce.com and email providers. The cloud now combines co-location, managed services, and security.
As for Verizon's role: "We don't want to be necessarily the broker. We don't want to be the person who's somehow integrating all these things and providing the single pane of glass." Many companies are competing for that role. Instead, Verizon provides connectivity, including private networks, the Verizon MPLS network, and Secure Cloud Interconnect, connecting enterprise companies' data centers and offices with the Verizon cloud and other cloud providers, as well as managed services. (See Verizon Connects Cloud With On-Demand WAN, Verizon Makes 5 Data Centers 'Carrier-Neutral', Verizon Worried About SDN, NFV Impacts, Verizon Brings Thunder to the Cloud, and Why Verizon Needed a Cloud Reboot.)
Verizon can also shield enterprises from technology and operational details.
What's next? "Enterprise for real," Considine said. The public cloud market is $10 billion to $15 billion, led by companies like Amazon. But $3.4 trillion was spent on IT in 2014. "What I would suggest is that we're at the very, very beginning of what's happening. We are working very hard to make it possible to run virtually anything in the cloud."