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8/23/2013
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NaviSite Unwraps VMware-Based Public Cloud Service

NaviSite joins the thin ranks of vCloud Director-based IaaS suppliers with NaviCloud Director, just as VMware sets to kick off VMworld.

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NaviSite, a large U.S. service provider that started out hosting websites, Microsoft Exchange servers and Oracle applications, is entering the lists of infrastructure-as-a-service providers by offering a VMware-based cloud.

It's a feather in VMware's cap that it can cite a major third-party addition to its hybrid cloud lineup as VMworld, its annual user group conclave, convenes Aug. 25-29 in San Francisco's Moscone Center. About 22,000 attendees are expected. NaviSite is an Andover, Mass.-based service owned by Time Warner, which acquired it in early 2011 as telecom companies like Verizon, NTT and CenturyLink started gobbling up IaaS providers.

VMware already has several U.S.-based, compatible public cloud suppliers, including BlueLock, CSC and Verizon Terremark. In Europe, it has Colt; in Japan, Softbank; in Singapore, SingTel.

"Over the past three years, we've seen an increase in the amount of capabilities asked for, capabilities such as more flexibility, more accessibility to the platform through an API," said David Grimes, cloud technology designer and visionary, in an interview. In a traditional managed service, the hosting service handles provisioning and management of the running application. IaaS changes that by turning the responsibilities over to the customer in exchange for lower pricing.

"The new opportunities are increasingly on the cloud side of the house. It's the fastest growing part of the business," said Grimes.

[ Want to learn why cloud computing is a good fit for communications companies like Time Warner? See Amazon, Telcos Will Battle For Cloud Customers. ]

NaviSite debated whether to build its own infrastructure services and public-facing application interface, or adopt one already in the market. It opted to play to its management strengths and address the VMware customer base, offering a version of vCloud Director that it calls NaviCloud Director. The NaviSite version will work with VMware virtual machine workloads, but NaviSite will add management features to the basic vCloud Director 5.1 functionality.

Two areas that it will concentrate on are more security features and stronger customer-enabled incident management for workloads in the NaviCloud, Grimes said.

NaviSite wants its cloud service to also be out front when it comes to software-defined networking and federating the operation of different vCloud-based services. "We want one user experience across several clouds," he said.

It will enhance the tagging capability of the virtual machine administrator, which helps companies know which virtual machines in which department are the ones running up the bill.

And Grimes thinks NaviSite can put finer-grained reporting, organized the way the end user wants it, into the customer's hands, he said. It will provide the means to build reports with more customer-centric metrics. In short, NaviSite will become another VMware public cloud. "VCloud Director is very capable, but not necessarily that easy to use from the end-user perspective," Grimes said. NaviCloud Director will address that issue and aim to make the VMware public cloud a simpler place with more accessible management features.

NaviSite currently operates four flagship data centers, with smaller colocation and rented wholesale data center facilities. The four are located in San Jose, Calif., Charlotte, N.C.; Andover, Mass.; and London. General availability for NaviCloud Director is set for September.

NaviSite will bill by the hour of use, like other major IaaS suppliers, but it will also set monthly fixed costs, depending on which the customer wants. The bill would come to $1.07 an hour for a customer with three simple Web servers, with each having a virtual CPU, 1 GB of RAM and 40 GB of disk; two application servers, with each having two virtual CPUs, 4 GB of RAM and 160 GB of disk; and a database server with four virtual CPUs, 8 GB of RAM and 320 GB of disk, Grimes said.

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