Verizon is upping the cloud computing ante by offering what it claims other public cloud providers cannot deliver, namely performance guarantees at the virtual machine (VM) level that enterprise customers can tailor to meet their application requirements.
These capabilities will be offered in Verizon Cloud Compute, a new infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud that is currently available to select customers as a closed beta at the moment, but is expected to hit full commercial release sometime in 2014.
Following the same trajectory is Verizon Cloud Storage, which provides the block and object storage part of the platform.
Chris Drumgoole, senior vice president of Global Operations for Verizon's Terremark subsidiary, told V3 that workloads are moving to the cloud, and that in five to seven years almost all computing will be performed in the cloud, so the infrastructure needs to be ready to cope with a massive growth in demand.
"The scale of cloud computing is going to change dramatically over the next several years, and any weaknesses in the cloud will be exposed very quickly, such as the ability to scale to tens of millions of machines. The ability to get predictable performance, scalability and reliability, these things are not mature on the cloud today, but they need to be in a world where all the apps live in the cloud," he said.
To address this challenge, the firm has built Verizon Cloud Compute from the ground up to deliver the level of scalability required to support customers with millions of VMs with predictable performance levels that can be matched closely with application requirements.
"You can actually dial in the performance you want from every configurable part of a VM, starting with exactly the number of processors you need, you can pick how much storage you need and dial up the IOPS [input/output operations per second] for extra performance if required, and you can do the same with network performance," Drumgoole explained.
This has meant switching from the VMware-based technology in Verizon's other cloud services to a new platform based on a modified version of the Xen hypervisor.
"Some of the reasons for this are technical and some are financial. When we looked at the overhead of running the entire VMware stack, it was infeasible at the kind of scale we are looking at and we wouldn't be able to offer the price points the market is demanding," Drumgoole said.
However, Verizon is supporting VMware's vCloud application programming interfaces (APIs) on Verizon Cloud Compute, along with those of OpenStack and Amazon Web Services, in order to appeal to the widest possible audience, he added.
Verizon will be backing its cloud platform with "strong" service-level agreements (SLAs) for both general availability and performance, although Drumgoole declined to specify details before the service is commercially available.
"Our reputation for reliability is very important and we needed the cloud to be something that customers can count on as rock solid," he said.
Meanwhile, Verizon Cloud Storage will offer two types of storage: block storage, which will be entirely based on solid-state drives (SSDs), and an object storage platform based on more traditional spinning disks.
The cloud storage will be distributed across three of Verizon's data centres, and customers will be able to specify which, Drumgoole added.
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