What I wanted to know, though, is how that really differs from Terremark's original business of traditional managed services. Is it just a name change?
According to West, the answer is yes and no. As virtualization takes hold in data centers large and small, the units of measurement when buying these services are changing. Instead of buying by the the fairly large unit of a physical server, storage array or network pipe, for example, you're buying in the far more granular units of GHz of processing power or bandwidth and gigabytes of storage. With virtualization, those resources are located on dynamically changing bits and pieces of the entire data center -- or across multiple data centers.
You don't know, moment to moment, which physical devices you're actually using. The difference is largely transparent to end users, but according to West it's the key difference between managed services and cloud computing infrastructure.
The advantage, of course, is that the "cloud" approach makes it much easier to scale resources to meet spikes of demand. West said that using the Web interface, Terremark's customers can provision new resources in minutes, not days or weeks.
It's also much more efficient and more reliable. West estimated than corporate server CPU utilization tops out at around 8% -12%, for example, but can go much higher in a shared, virtualized datacenter. And when the resources are spread around, there's no single point of failure.
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