RealTime IT News

Verizon Business Joins the Cloud Computing War

Verizon Business today unveiled its Computing as a Service (CaaS) product for mid-sized to large enterprise customers.

"CaaS' combination of flexibility, security, performance and resiliency is well positioned to serve certain enterprise requirements in a nimble, next-generation fashion," Melanie Posey, IDC research director for hosting and telecom services, said in a statement.

Verizon's software, which delivers workflow and resource management, is the "brains of the system," Joseph Crawford, Verizon executive director of product management, told InternetNews.com.

In a traditional enterprise software stack, a company has two of everything -- firewalls, databases and servers -- in order to deliver redundancy. But that resilience comes at a cost in management complexity, according to Crawford. The cloud allows service providers like Verizon (NYSE: VZ) to handle that complexity for the customer. But Verizon's not alone in jumping on the cloud.

Today's news comes as Gartner reported that the cloud computing market is about to get more competitive as new companies enter the fray. Indeed, on Monday, Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC), the largest independent consulting firm now that EDS is part of HP, announced its cloud offering.

Now it's Verizon's turn.

Cloud computing is appealing because applications are easier to deliver, but businesses have three key objections to the concept, each of which has been answered in CaaS, Crawford said.

Businesses fear that cloud and virtual environments are not secure, but Crawford said enterprise customers can rely on Verizon Business to meet those challenges. And Verizon's MPLS network means that communications occur outside the standard Internet.

Enterprise customers fear that utility reporting will result in unexpectedly large bills, but he said CaaS has a built-in safety valve so that users stay on budget.

And customers like the automation of cloud and virtual environments but fear losing control of them, which Verizon has addressed by building many provisioning engines that give the customer control of their own subscription.

"Security and transparency are the themes that differentiate us from offerings like Amazon's EC2," Crawford said.

Familiar products

CaaS features some reassuring enterprise brand names.

Although the master of the stack is Verizon's own proprietary software, CaaS is comprised of recognizable enterprise products. Crawford said that CaaS uses HP Opsware and its Virtual Connect product to interact with the blade system.

It uses the HP Systems Insight Manager for the hardware management platform. "Insight would query the inventory, and tell Opsware to execute the application on a specific blade system," said Crawford.

CaaS uses VMware for virtualization and RedHat Linux and Microsoft Windows for the base operating system images.

Cisco delivers the firewall and load balancer in both physical and virtual environments. On the back end, storage is by 3Par.

Passwords are managed through RSA technology and can be delivered over the Internet or by physical tokens. Crawford was eager to point out that CaaS uses the highest level of security for passwords.

"When a customer creates a server farm, we generate a private key for the farm. We do not send user names and passwords through e-mail. They either get a private key from their laptop or key fob or they see the password in a secure encrypted browser window. This is the level of security our customers expect from providers like Verizon," he said.

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