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Verizon Cloud joins casualty list amid public IaaS exodus

Two years after launching Verizon Cloud with lofty ambitions, Verizon this week quietly told customers it plans to shut down its public cloud offering.

Verizon is the latest large-scale IT vendor to quietly shutter its public cloud after its splashy entry to the market several years ago.

Customers this week received a letter informing them that Verizon's public cloud, reserved performance and marketplace services will be closed on April 12. Any virtual machines running on the public Verizon Cloud will be shut down and no content on those servers will be retained.

The move isn't particularly surprising. Despite once-lofty ambitions, Verizon acknowledges its public cloud offering is not a big part of its cloud portfolio and, a year ago, the firm began to emphasize its private cloud services even before its public cloud became generally available. Other large vendors such as Dell and Hewlett Packard Enterprise similarly have been shutting down their public clouds.

Despite the letter to customers saying the contrary, Verizon has not explicitly and publicly said that it's shutting down its public cloud. In a statement to SearchCloudComputing, Verizon claims it remains committed to its cloud platform, and that it is "discontinuing its niche cloud service that accepted individual credit card swipes." Customers using Verizon Cloud Storage won't be affected, and the letter advised customers of the discontinued services to use its Virtual Private Cloud instead, saying it will help customers migrate to the service.

Even after shifting the focus to private cloud more than a year ago, Verizon continued to tell analysts that it had no plans to pull out of public cloud and that it viewed the service as an important part of its flexible deployment models.

"Now it seems like they're still being wishy-washy to the market -- but they're making it very clear to customers that they're out of public cloud," said Kelsey Mason, an analyst with Technology Business Research based in Hampton, N.H.

Verizon Cloud's unrealized potential

The best technology poorly executed isn't a winning strategy in the long term/
Kenneth Whitesenior engineer

Grand product rollouts are nothing new to IT, but Verizon's public cloud was seen as having considerable potential when it went into beta in October 2013, following major investments in the platform and the acquisition of providers such as Terremark and CloudSwitch. But there was never a cohesive vision or statement from Verizon, said Kenneth White, a Washington-based senior engineer who advises federal and biotech customers on public cloud strategy.

"The best technology poorly executed isn't a winning strategy in the long term," he said.

White had several active accounts for test and development on Verizon Cloud, with the last spun down in December. The product also had terrible automation and cumbersome interoperability with its other cloud services, he added.

Verizon wanted to be an Amazon killer in the cloud, said Amy Larsen DeCarlo, senior analyst at Current Analysis Inc., based in Washington, D.C. No one took those ambitions seriously, but there was potential to harness Verizon's massive network and deliver a true end-to-end cloud that would be easier to dial up and down and seamlessly migrate workloads than the more data center-driven provider offerings at the time.

"It's a shame in a lot of ways because I think Verizon had a lot of good ideas," DeCarlo said.

In the end, Verizon never attracted enough partners and couldn't keep up with the investments needed to maintain these massive data centers, DeCarlo said. The company also is going through a painful shift of its priorities, including considerable leadership turnover and plans to possibly sell off its colocation facilities.

The company also took considerable heat for a two-day global outage of Verizon Cloud early last year that it later claimed was intended to help prevent future outages during maintenance windows.

It's actually surprising Verizon took this long to pull out of public cloud, but it's smart because the company simply doesn't have the breadth of services to keep up with Amazon or Microsoft, Mason said. Now Verizon can instead focus on its strengths and continue to provide private cloud support for its healthcare and governmental clients, she said.

Trevor Jones is a news writer with TechTarget's Data Center and Virtualization media group. Contact him at [email protected].

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