When a product isn’t easy to consume, customers stay away. Cloud providers know that as well as anyone. Many enterprises are daunted by the complexity of securing the cloud and managing cloud services alongside the services in their own data centers. Verizon Communications Inc. is attempting to knock down those barriers to cloud computing adoption with its recent acquisition of CloudSwitch, a cloud broker software vendor that simplifies the process of securely moving enterprise data into the cloud.
"Enterprise customers are looking for ease of deployment, they're looking for the ability to secure their data and they're looking for ways to deploy applications 'as is'—without modification for [them to run in] the cloud," said Chris Gesell, chief innovation and strategy officer at Terremark, the cloud services subsidiary of Verizon. "This [technology] really provides the answer to many of the [customer] concerns and barriers to adoption that exist today."
CloudSwitch integrates with cloud providers' public application program interfaces (APIs) to make the process of migrating an application or workload to the cloud as simple as a drag-and-drop action in a Web browser. Making that migration so seamless requires the cloud broker to replicate not just the application but everything else it depends on to function, according to Ellen Rubin, founder and vice president of products at CloudSwitch.
This is a potentially differentiating move [for Terremark]. Other providers talk about it, but I haven't seen anything from them.
Amy Larsen DeCarlo
Principal Analyst, Current Analysis
CloudSwitch automatically migrates an entire application environment to the cloud, including network configurations, security policies, IP addresses and management and monitoring settings, Rubin said.
"[If customers] have this SharePoint environment or [they] have a website or [they] have some developer environment [they] want to have running out in Terremark's cloud, they literally drag it over into the cloud and they're done," she said.
Verizon's acquisition is "going to fill a gap that providers often talk about," which is enabling customers to easily deploy and manage cloud services across multiple cloud providers, according to Amy Larsen DeCarlo, principal analyst at Current Analysis.
"I think this is a potentially differentiating move. Other providers talk about it, but I haven't seen anything from them," Larsen DeCarlo said. "Verizon is buying this for the intellectual property it can use to facilitate the dynamic movement of data and applications between or among clouds. It's the kind of thing that can give a high-level executive some ideas about how to use the cloud beyond storage."
Verizon declined to describe the terms of the cloud broker acquisition or provide details about the companies' joint sales strategy going forward.
Terremark: Cloud broker acquisition accelerates adoption
Without a cloud broker like CloudSwitch facilitating a migration, enterprises would have to configure all of those parameters manually—a process that can be derailed by human error or a complex application, Rubin said.
"Each cloud environment is different from what they have internally, and they're all different from each other—they're running on different hypervisors, they're using different storage architectures, they're using different APIs for connectivity or different management systems," she said. "If you wanted to, for example, migrate a legacy application into another cloud like Terremark's, you would essentially need to do manual work to re-architect or re-engineer not only the application, but all of the networking, security and management pieces around it. An application doesn't exist on its own."
Simplifying that process with a cloud broker provides Terremark with an attractive value-added service that it believes will accelerate adoption, Gesell said. But that adoption curve isn't likely to waver from the expectation that enterprises will initially use cloud services for pre-production needs, he said.
"This [provides enterprises with] a much simpler way for them to test the waters of cloud because of the level of effort to test it goes significantly down," Gesell said. "But ultimately ... the adoption path of what workloads go first is still going to hold true. I think the pace of those workloads will accelerate because of the ease of use."
CloudSwitch, which has large enterprise customers such as Biogen Idec and Novartis International AG , requires little back-end support from cloud providers or enterprises, Rubin said. The software, which is supported on VMware and Citrix Xen hypervisors, requires a symmetric deployment. A customer downloads the software as a virtual machine (VM) for his or her data center, and once configured, the software automatically spins up a virtual instance of itself in the customer's cloud environment and establishes an encrypted tunnel between the two VMs, Rubin said.
"It will automatically map the application exactly as is—literally, no changes—into the [provider's] cloud and maintain all of the networking [configurations] and ... bridging at Layer 2 between the customer's environment and the cloud," she said.
Cloud broker software eases multicloud world for customers
It's not just enterprise-to-cloud migrations that CloudSwitch's software helps facilitate. The cloud broker also masks the complicated back-end work necessary for an enterprise customer to copy an application or workload from one cloud provider's environment to another's, Rubin said. However, the cloud-to-cloud capability depends on CloudSwitch establishing partnerships with cloud providers to tailor its software to each provider's specific requirements.
CloudSwitch had pre-existing partnerships with Terremark and Amazon Web Services (AWS) prior to the acquisition, and Terremark gave no indication that it was planning to sever ties with AWS. On the contrary, Terremark sees a competitive advantage in having customers use the cloud broker software to manage multiple providers more easily, Gesell said.
"That's just the reality of the world we're going to face: Customers are going to look for multicloud environments," he said. "One of the big reasons we're such believers in CloudSwitch [is] because it aligns so well to our beliefs: We believe in offering enterprises flexibility, [and] we believe in not locking enterprises into a single cloud provider."
Editorial Director Kate Gerwig contributed to this report. Let us know what you think about the story; email: Jessica Scarpati, Senior News Writer.