If you run an IT department, chances are you've been bombarded by vendors hyping their own brand of cloud computing services over the last year.
In fact, you've probably been told that cloud computing is an ideal solution for businesses that want a massively scalable service that can give them large amounts of computing power on demand without the need to heavily invest in on-site physical infrastructure. And while it sounds good, there are obvious concerns: Cloud computing technology is still relatively new and is fraught with peril, as several high-profile outages and data losses have left many IT departments wary of the technology.
Verizon Business, however, says it's here to help. The company Wednesday launched the Verizon Cloud Computing Program to help IT departments transition their applications to a cloud environment. Bruce Biesecker, a senior strategist at Verizon Business, says the company is employing a "more traditional definition of cloud computing" that involves both a front-end portal that lets users add server capacity and a billing system that charges customers for computing as though it's a utility. As an example, Biesecker points to Verizon's own computing-as-a-service offering that provides on-demand capacity and charges customers only for the time they use the service.
"Let's say that a larger utility company wants to come in and crunch data," he says. "With our service, they take the data on their own back-end servers and instead of having a large pool of physical servers, they have virtual servers in the computing-as-a-service environment."
Verizon's cloud computing consultation is aiming to help customers along through every step of the migration process, from assessing a company's current infrastructure, to designing a cloud services package that will meet a company's specific needs, to actually migrating applications over to the cloud, to managing the applications once they're on the cloud.
Additionally, Verizon will consult companies on key security challenges for cloud-based services, including identity and access management and data loss prevention.
Biesecker says that Verizon hopes its consulting service will help make the transition to cloud-based services easier for customers, whom he says have been reluctant to put too many of their critical applications onto the cloud.
"Enterprises usually start off migrating internal applications that won't have a big business impact if something goes wrong," he says. "So they'll begin with, say, an application for submitting expense reports, where an employee would be able to live without it for a short time if there was a problem with migrating it to the cloud. Most enterprises take it on a function-by-function basis where they dip their toes in and get comfortable before migrating more apps over."
Biesecker also says that customers typically need to be educated about what applications they can and cannot put onto the cloud. For instance, he says that some large ERP applications are not yet built to run in a virtualized environment and thus must still be managed by companies on their own IT servers. However, he expects that as cloud computing catches on more, more applications will be designed specifically to work in a virtualized environment.
"More and more clients are pushing companies to have their apps available in a virtualized environment," he says. "It's just a matter of transitioning out of the business model that's been set up over the years for a lot of database applications."