NEW YORK CITY--For the better part of two years, Verizon has been quietly working behind the scenes to re-architect its cloud architecture. The goal? To create an enterprise-geared public cloud that supports the security, regulatory compliance and visibility that organizations require while offering what it calls an unprecedented degree of flexibility.
Verizon Terremark CTO John Considine took the stage at Interop 2013 here in New York City Thursday to unveil the new offering, which he says has been built from scratch to support scalability and ease of use at its core.
"I'm here to talk about a new cloud with new rules," Considine told Interop attendees. "Just a few years ago, we were having a serious debate about whether cloud was a fad or something real."
The intervening years have proved that cloud is here to stay, he said. But, he noted, public clouds have not lived up to their promise. Their performance is inconsistent, they suffer from multilayered dependencies that cause a lack of control, and there are security, compliance and data protection concerns.
"[Performance] is inconsistent, it's not guaranteed and it's preventing a lot of work from being done in the cloud," he said. "How would you design a better cloud? This is a question we spent a lot of time on over the past two years."
Verizon Decides to Rebuild Public Cloud from Scratch
"At Verizon, we've been operating one of the world's largest public clouds for nearly six years," says Chris Drumgoole, senior vice president of Global Operations at Verizon. But recognizing the issues outlined by Considine and convinced that the future of the world's compute lies in the cloud, Verizon decided it needed to start from scratch rather than seeking to improve on what already exists.
"Verizon created the enterprise cloud, now we're recreating it," says John Stratton, president of Verizon Enterprise Solutions. "This is the revolution in cloud services that enterprises have been calling for. We took feedback from our enterprise clients across the globe and built a new cloud platform from the bottom up to deliver the attributes they require."
Users, Considine says, want superior performance and control. They want rapid provisioning. And they want a cloud that tackles multi-tenancy issues directly, creating an environment that behaves as if they are the only ones on it.
"We're introducing a new cloud with new rules," he says.
Until Now, Public Clouds Have Been 'One-Size-Fits-All'
The problem with public clouds as they currently exist, Drumgoole explains, is that they tend to be "one-size-fits-all." The thrust of the new Verizon Cloud is that organizations will be able to decide exactly the performance of the processors, storage, network performance, IOPS and so forth required by each application they push to the cloud, and pay only for that. This, Drumgoole says, gives organizations far greater flexibility while only paying for what they need.
"We use the term reserved performance to show how we've changed the cloud," Considine said. You can set CPU performance, network bandwidth and storage on each VM you reserve, he adds, and it will give you guaranteed consistent performance.
"For the first time, you can run your application in a multi-tenant cloud and not feel the effects of multi-tenancy," he said.
Additionally, unlike most public clouds, the Verizon Cloud is a true layer 2 network. You can connect multiple networks to a single VM and single disks can be attached to multiple VMs, allowing you to build real clusters in the cloud and to support high-availability applications.
"It's really the first step toward the software-defined data center," Drumgoole explains.
Verizon Cloud Offers Visibility and Control
Verizon is also focusing on transparency to ensure that organizations have the visibility into and control over their data that they require.
"If you're a customer of ours, we can take you to our data centers and point and say, 'Your data right now is on that drive,'" Drumgoole says. "Ten minutes later it may be on a different drive, but there you go."
He notes that customers can set regional limitations on which data centers data can reside in. This is especially important for European customers that must keep all customer data in the country of origin, he says.
The new Verizon Cloud is built on two main components: Verizon Cloud Compute and Verizon Cloud Storage.
Verizon Cloud Compute is an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platform that gives users the ability to determine and set virtual machine and network performance and at the same time configure storage performance and attach storage to multiple virtual machines.
"This is a breakthrough approach to how cloud computing is done," says Bryson Koehler, CIO at The Weather Company. "Weather is the most dynamic dataset in the world, and we also use big data to help consumers better plan their day and help businesses make intelligent decisions as it relates to weather. As a big data leader, a major part of The Weather Company's go-forward strategy is based on the cloud, and we are linking a large part of our technical future to these services from Verizon."
Verizon Cloud Storage, in the meantime, is an object-addressable multitenant storage platform. Whenever you spin storage up, you can decide what level of redundancy you want (single site or multi-site) and where you want it to reside.
"We are putting control and choice back in the hands of the user, while still addressing their needs for availability, performance and security," Considine said. "We started from scratch, building the core components we felt necessary to achieve that goal."
The service is currently in beta. Organizations interested in participating can sign up through the Verizon Enterprise Solutions website. For now, Verizon Cloud Compute and Verizon Cloud Storage are installed in Verizon cloud data centers in Culpeper, Va., Englewood, Colo., Miami, Fla. and Santa Clara, Calif. in the U.S. They are also installed in data centers in Amsterdam, London and Sao Paolo. Verizon says clients will initially be served out the Culpeper data center, though other centers around the globe will be added through mid-2014.
Thor Olavsrud covers IT Security, Big Data, Open Source, Microsoft Tools and Servers for CIO.com. Follow Thor on Twitter @ThorOlavsrud. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn. Email Thor at firstname.lastname@example.org