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Verizon Launches New Public Cloud

by Chris Swan on Oct 09, 2013 |

Verizon have launched a new public cloud, which is presently in beta. It differentiates from other public clouds such as Amazon’s EC2 (and Verizon’s own VMware based Terremark service) by offering more granular control over VM sizing, network performance and storage performance – allowing customers to create a customised service level agreement.

With this cloud, Verizon have become the first large adopter of AMD’s SeaMicro SM15000, a ‘Fabric Compute System’ that uses 64 octal-core CPUs (for a total of 512 cores per unit). A single SM15000 fits into 10u of rack space, and eliminates many of the cables that would be used to connect regular servers into the network and storage. The hardware has its own provisioning capabilities that allow CPUs, network and storage to be allocated to a logical server. The combination of flexible hardware provisioning (from SeaMicro), virtualization (from Xen), and orchestration (from CloudStack) allows Verizon to offer finer grained control over compute, storage and network versus other clouds (which usually sell in binary increments of a base level small/medium virtual server).

In addition to flexible performance options the network also offers Layer 2 spanning. This can be between Verizon data centres (once they have more than one online) and onto customer data centres. Gartner analyst Lydia Leong notes that the talent for cloud networking came from Verizon’s acquisition of CloudSwitch in 2011.

Verizon are promoting the ability to share disks across VMs as a distinguishing feature of the new cloud, and it’s something that will ease the duplication of traditional enterprise clustering mechanisms. The storage subsystem for the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) component is all flash. This provides a good basis for the flexible performance that’s offered, which is conceptually similar to Provisioned IOPS for Amazon EBS, but available across all instance types. Verizon are also offering an object storage service, which will compete against Amazon’s S3 and similar storage services. Verizon advertise that they have no limits on the number or size of objects stored.

By modifying the hypervisor and orchestration platform Verizon are able to offer native image import for most types of virtual machine, including VMware workloads that might previously have been hosted on Terremark. This will save customers from needing to perform transformations as part of any migration process into the new cloud.

The launch data centre is Culpeper, VA with further locations promised for 2013 (US: Santa Clara, Englewood, CO and Miami; Europe: Amsterdam and London). Verizon are promoting their green credentials, but unfortunately don’t say much about the power sources for the various locations, and as Mastodon C point out, the source of power can be much more important than use of power for carbon consumption.

One thing noticeably missing from the launch announcement is pricing, so it remains unclear whether Verizon intend to go head on with Amazon, Google and Microsoft, or attempt to charge a premium for having features that ease enterprise adoption. The granular control over compute, storage and network would certainly support a more flexible pricing model than most existing public clouds, so there’s potential for customers to get better pricing by being able to buy precisely what their application needs.

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