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October 8, 2013

New Verizon Cloud ‘brings the continuum of service to the table’

John Considine, CTO of Verizon Terremark talks to CBR about the launch of the new Verizon Cloud and how the company is building on its well-established history with the cloud.

By Claire Vanner

Q: Tell us about the new Verizon Cloud service?

A: "The Verizon Cloud is an infrastructure, it’s a service cloud platform as well as an object store platform and this is something we’re very excited about. Over the last two years, we set out to build a brand new platform to really address the issues we found in cloud computing and what we’ve been trying to do is instead of satisfying the computing in the cloud market against the commodity and generic clouds out there, we wanted to expand the market of things that can be done in the cloud.

"We looked at how that cloud was performing, we looked at what was happening, we talked to our customers, to our partners, we looked around in terms of what really needs to happen to change cloud computing to make it more accessible, run more things on the cloud than people currently think. Then we really had to deliver a continuum of service which is the strength of Verizon Terremark.

"We’re delivering a new platform where the user can specify the performance of their compute, their networking, the storage and we will guarantee they will get that performance. It doesn’t matter what their neighbours are doing, the time of day, we will always deliver on what they expect."


Q: What did Verizon do to develop this new cloud platform?

A: "Reserve performance is really different to anything you see in the cloud platforms today and frankly that’s because it’s a very difficult problem to solve. We went at it by changing the architecture of the cloud: a brand new architecture with really fundamental controls at the very lowest level to manage the performance and increase the reliability of the platform.

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"The next thing we did was remove restrictions that people put on the cloud today. We give people sole flexibility to do whatever they want with their network. If they want to create a three-tier network, a five-tier network, all sorts of subnets, they can do whatever they want within that, within our cloud.

"The ability to control the environment was important, so we also supply a maintenance cloud platform: you’ll be able to have the choice of whatever hypervisor, visual machine format you want in this architecture and platform.

"We also wanted to make it accessible: so anyone can acquire these resources. You can come to our cloud with a credit card and sign up in a matter of moments, have the resources you want, scale up, scale down, pay for your resources by the hour and at the same time we support our enterprise sales and the enterprises that still like to do contracts, purchase orders and all of that. So those formats fill into the format to make it more accessible."


Q: Did you draw on past products and experiences at Verizon when developing the Verizon Cloud?

A: "We have a long history: we’ve been in the cloud space since 2008, so in cloud terms that’s pretty old. So in the last five years, we’ve been delivering a global scale cloud. This is a combination of technologies and platforms that came from the Terremark asset, which was purchased by Verizon in 2011 and a platform that came form Verizon, which was called CAZ when it was launched [now known as a CaaS]. I run all the development for those products, and we really stepped back and looked at the scale, the economics, the reliability, how those platforms worked.

"We are running a very large business in the cloud space, but we’re part of Verizon, a $30bn company, so what we wanted to do was figure out what we would have to do to make our cloud platform a multi-billion dollar platform: what would support that kind of revenue?

"So what that required was for us to take a look at everything that effects scale, performance and effects how we operate because that gets to the route of the cost and everything else. So we took our experience and the enterprise cloud service. So the service we have today, we wrote all the orchestration for that.

"The really heavy analysis we put it into development in the areas of software defined developing, working in the hypervisor and storage space, and of course in the orchestration. So we’ve done research in those areas to create an entirely new platform, then we combine it with our old platform, which we think is flat out better that anybody was doing."


Q: What security measures do you have in place and how do you assure customers that their data is safe on the cloud?

A: "First, we support what we call forced locality, that means we have data centres in Amsterdam and London and a customer can say I want all my stuff to stay in London, or I want it to stay in the EU, so I’ll keep it in London and Amsterdam. So the customers can be explicit about where their data is maintained.

"That’s the first level, and then we have cloud nodes in Brazil and the US and then we’re going to be expanding through APAC. So there’s the explicit control where we’re not moving data between things: the customer has explicit control.

"The next level is that our data centres are highly secure and our processes for everything from the data centre all the way up to the cloud platform are certified. We’re very transparent with our cloud offerings, meaning we will tell people and auditors exactly how it works and where it is, unlike some of the cloud providers that tend to be a little opaque.

"The next level is that we allow the customer to encrypt their data and do all those functions for both at transit and at rest, and with encryption level, it gains another level of security because you rely on the encryption to protect your data.

"Finally we have a full suite of security services, we have probably one of the largest global security practices in the world, that does everything from DoS protection to secure manage service: firewall and intrusion detection and security scams and sweeps in terms of penetration tests. Really, we have this kind of broad security mesh."


Q: What sets Verizon apart from the competition in the world of cloud computing?

A: "I would say flexibility of environment – generic clouds out there do things like bundles, small, medium, large and they pick the way that machine looks, so many CPUs and memory and that’s what you get. The challenge is a reflection of how they built the cloud because the deciders are odd. 1.7MB machine with one core, but imagine you want to use the cloud and it’s a 2GB machine you use, so squeeze machine down or go to next size up of 3.5 and pay for more than you need.

"But in our cloud you have freedom – you get the granularity to select what you want. We’ve unrestricted the cloud to let the customer do what they want. We give them free range to do what they need. There are design patterns and architectures that most clouds use and force the customer to change, but we support that. So if someone wants a clean slate to build from new, our cloud is great for that. But if they want to use the same design patterns, they can come to our cloud and we’ll support them there too. They don’t have to change to come to the cloud.

"Verizon brings the continuum of service to the table. The cloud is still evolving and some customers still want to have physical machines; maybe they need a data base on a specific piece of hardware. You can combine our cloud with our co-location services and cross-connect into the cloud. We also provide all those services and security, network services. That continuum allows the customers to build full solutions and get the work they need done within the cloud. All of that together is rather unique as well."


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