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5/20/2013
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Terremark's VMware Cloud Software Story: It's Complicated

Terremark CTO John Considine says VMware "is a great partner of ours." But Terremark built its own cloud provisioning software to run its operation.

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Verizon Terremark, Verizon Communications' cloud unit, was an early VMware cloud supporter. It is eager to support VMware customers who wish to use its Enterprise Cloud services, and it will provide them with all the VMware components they need to duplicate the environment they have on premises.

On the other hand, Terremark, a former independent supplier of cloud services to the government and enterprise before VMware got into the cloud business, doesn't rely on VMware products to run its own operations. With 50 data centers around the world, and one of the world's biggest communications hubs in its NAP of the Americas data center in downtown Miami, Terremark has gone its own way when it comes to maintaining a high-volume, multi-tenant cloud service operation.

Terremark for the last three years has endorsed VMware in the cloud and frequently appeared at VMworld as one of the public cloud alternatives. Customers, even within Terremark services, have opted to use something other than VMware. That fact, combined with Monday's withdrawal of Dell as a named provider of VMware public cloud services, shows some of the obstacles that VMware is running up against as it tries to convince customers to turn to it for public cloud services. Dell was to be one of four VMware providers in the U.S., along with Bluelock, CSC and AT&T.

Worried about defections to Amazon Web Services, VMware has slated a press conference at 10 a.m. Pacific Tuesday to say what VMware's public cloud alternative will be.

[ Want to learn more about VMware's public cloud plans -- and its exasperation with AWS defectors? Read VMware Hybrid Cloud Plans: Time For Amazon Answer. ]

Terremark CTO John Considine explained VMware "is a great partner of ours" and he wants it stay that way. But if Terremark, an early supporter of VMware customers in the cloud, had used VMware vCloud Director and other products, it would have had to extend them with its own custom code to get them to operate in the manner and scale they would need in a Terremark cloud operation.

"Terremark was the first company to support the vCloud API," he said in an interview. But it realized if it chose to extend the API for its own use, "you're not standard. It's then a challenge to maintain the extensions" with each update of the API, he said in a recent interview.

In addition, Terremark found the number of licenses it would need to operate a Terremark cloud under VMware server software "a little expensive." It developed its own cloud management software that suited the needs of a supplier focused on providing highly secure and managed environments to the government and an established list of enterprise customers.

It offers customers whatever environment they wish, and some opt for an all-VMware setting inside Terremark. But "it's not a majority. A few customers are asking for that capability," but most are sticking with a standard Terremark cloud setting. Terremark routinely runs workloads from customers using VMware ESX Server without vCloud Director.

"Verizon decided it wanted to invest heavily in cloud software. We built our own orchestration layer to supply customers with cloud services. We were able to do so because we carried over expertise in managed services" from Terremark's earlier business as a supplier of hosted managed services, Considine explained.

Verizon Terremark was positioned Oct. 29 in the leaders' quadrant of Gartner's reports on both infrastructure-as-a-service and North American providers of hosted managed services. The two are closely related, and the joint designation reflects the industry out of which the Terremark Enterprise Cloud has emerged. Hosted services providers run applications themselves, with each application serving a particular customer. In IaaS, the customer would be responsible for running the application itself, while the cloud service provider runs the underlying infrastructure. Cloud services are also more automated, digital services, as opposed to the manual interventions possible and sometimes required under hosted managed services.

Terremark is the former independent supplier of cloud services to the government and enterprise. In February 2011, it became the cloud computing unit of Verizon and took over management of Verizon data centers intended to deliver cloud services.

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