The one thing Verizon’s spiffy new cloud is missing

Verizon has a new cloud offering with cool new hardware. But it's missing one thing

This week Verizon announced plans to roll out a completely new cloud computing platform, which has been welcomed to the market with awe regarding the technical nature of it and numerous questions about just how it will play in the market.

The new offering named Verizon Cloud will come with two basic features: compute and storage. The funny thing about it is that Verizon already has a cloud offering from Terremark, which the carrier bought for a whopping $1.4 billion in 2011. This new offering is meant to augment Terremark, for now, and may one day replace the Terremark infrastructure.

Gartner cloud analyst Lydia Leong says the technology running Verizon cloud is impressive. Charles Babcock at Information Week describes it here:

"The servers are neither pizza-box style or blade servers but units that have been stripped of all excess components and shrunk to the size of an index card, (Verizon cloud CTO John) Considine said. Each 10u 'box' contains 64 servers, four TB of RAM and 100 TB of storage, plus network switching. Four of the boxes may be fit into a standard data center rack."

Joab Jackson at the IDG News Service puts that into perspective, showing what that will mean for customers:

"Rather than just selling prepackaged small, medium or large VMs, customers can independently choose how much compute, storage and memory capacity is needed. For instance, customers can obtain a VM with 500MHz, 1GHz or 2GHz of CPU power, and anywhere from 1GB through 8GB of memory."

Verizon isn't the only company to take this approach of design your own sized VMs, by the way. CloudSigma and ProfitBricks have a similar architecture.

But Leong, the Gartner analyst, says beyond Verizon having some spiffy hardware, it's going to need to find some sort of differentiator for its offering. "I think they truly have a unique 1 architecture and have built something really innovative," Leong says, calling it a true generation 2.0 architecture. "The question, assuming that it all works, is anyone going to care?"

The cloud IaaS industry is already a crowded one. Amazon Web Services is by almost all accounts the market leader. Microsoft has been ramping up its Azure services and is a formidable force. Rackspace has both cloud and managed hosting options for customers, with OpenStack backing. IBM, HP, Joyent and CSC are big players too.

Verizon Cloud has compute and storage, for now. And it only announced the new Verizon Cloud - its expected to be available in public beta by the end of the year. So, the company has time to ramp it up. But Amazon has dozens of other products, from databases, multiple types of storage, dozens of virtual machine images sizes, a content delivery network and a store full of SaaS apps that are programmed to run on its platform. Microsoft and Rackspace are building up the same. Does Verizon's Cloud provide any additional value beyond what is available from Amazon, Microsoft and Rackspace?

Verizon may point to the network backbone that the company can leverage, and that is certainly a differentiator. But Leong says she'll be waiting for more features from Verizon to get up to speed with the other vendors of the industry.

Verizon has built a new platform and with spiffy new bells and whistles. Now, what they do next with that will be the really interesting part to watch. 

Senior Writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing for Network World and NetworkWorld.com. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

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