Verizon Pushes Into Google, Amazon, Microsoft IaaS Territory

Verizon's cloud unit has re-architected seven cloud data centers with "triple" their former density of infrastructure.

Charles Babcock, Editor at Large, Cloud

October 3, 2013

4 Min Read

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A new, mass-market cloud service provider has arrived. Verizon has re-architected a set of its data centers to achieve "three times the density" of its previous infrastructure and is using them to launch Verizon Cloud Compute and Verizon Cloud Storage.

The new services, the equivalent of Amazon EC2 and S3 storage, will be launched in beta in the fourth quarter. They will work alongside the existing Verizon Terremark Enterprise Cloud, Verizon's first-generation cloud offering built on Cisco Unified Computer System servers, HP Blade System servers and VMware virtualization. The new architecture moves away from the converged server/networking suppliers to a design of Verizon's own origin, manufactured through a third-party partner who is not a household name. "We want to enable people to do more in the cloud," said John Considine, CTO of the Verizon Terremark cloud unit, in an interview. Considine announced the new offerings in a keynote speech to attendees at the Interop show in New York on Thursday.

Although Verizon will maintain its older Enterprise Cloud offerings for an undetermined amount of time, the future lies with the new architecture, based on racks of servers containing 10u units of servers, networking and storage. The servers are neither pizza-box style or blade servers but units that have been stripped of all excess components and shrunk to the size of an index card, Considine said. Each 10u "box" contains 64 servers, four TB of RAM and 100 TB of storage, plus network switching. Four of the boxes may be fit into a standard data center rack.

[ Want more on Verizon Terremark's move away from VMware? See Terremark's VMware Cloud Software Story: It's Complicated. ]

The new architecture will bring Verizon closer to the suppliers who respond to new prospects at the swipe of a credit card. "We wanted to make this platform accessible. The chief marketing officer in some cases will acquire cloud servers with the swipe of a credit card, just to get work done," Considine said.

That's a clear departure from the multi-year contracts and monthly bills for a given resource that characterize the Enterprise Cloud. Verizon added billing by the hour for individual instances just three months ago. VMware instances occur frequently in the enterprise cloud; virtual servers will be based on open-source Zen in the second-generation cloud.

Customers' servers "will be deployed in seconds," said Considine, with users given the chance to build the type of server they want rather than being placed on a pre-determined CPU/memory/storage combination used by Google, Microsoft and Amazon. Customers will "build and pay for exactly what they need," he said.

Verizon is equipping seven of its data centers for Verizon Cloud Compute and Verizon Cloud Storage operations. They are in Culpepper, Va., Santa Clara, Calif., Denver, Miami, London, Amsterdam and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Data centers in Asia will be added in 2014, Considine said. The Verizon Terremark unit operates a total of 50 data centers around the world.

Verizon Cloud Storage is an object storage service, where structured and unstructured data is stored as files, similar to Amazon, Google and Microsoft cloud storage.

"Verizon created the enterprise cloud, now we're recreating it," said John Stratton, president of Verizon Enterprise Solutions, in the announcement. That statement isn't quite true. Terremark moved from managed services and hosted services for companies into cloud computing, then Verizon acquired Terremark in 2011.

Verizon has seen its cloud business grow under Terremark until the old architecture no longer seemed capable of keeping up. "The amount of memory used with the average virtual machine has doubled over the last 18 months. Storage use has grown by 90%," said Considine. The Enterprise Cloud offered service level agreements and security measures that were desired by its early enterprise customers, and more expensive than the plain vanilla services emanating from Amazon, Microsoft and others.

As competition picked up, Verizon decided it had the chops it needed to compete in the new Terremark unit, and turned it loose. The result is a new cloud architecture that appears to be more dense than some current market participants. Verizon might be setting a standard that other suppliers will one day seek to emulate.

About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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