Verizon Business Launches Virtualization Services Suite

Consulting services are tailored to cover the entire technology lifecycle from assessment and design to ongoing management.

By Ted Stevenson | Posted Mar 25, 2009
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Verizon Business today announced the augmentation of its already sizable professional services portfolio with a new suite of services focused on server virtualization – reflecting the growing importance of virtualization solutions in today's enterprise computing environment.

Enterprise Networking Planet spoke with Verizon Business's Abby Gregory, manager, global services, about the new offering: Verizon Virtualization Consulting and Management Services.

Gregory touched on the main motivators driving current adoption of virtualization, which allows an application to be spread out across multiple hosts, or multiple instances of an application to be run on a single host.

"Some of the top drivers include improving redundancy and security and availability," she said. "That goes back to being able to spread an application out over multiple hosts, because you are able to build in redundancy to your application with a smaller number of hosts than typically would be required."

The fundamental goal of virtualization, according to Gregory, is "making what you have more efficient."

"You can control costs associated with data centers," she elaborated " – specifically space and power. Through virtualization, you are able to reduce the number of hosts you need to support your application, and by reducing the number of hosts required, you're reducing your floor space required at the data center facility, and thereby reducing your power requirements."

Reducing the number of servers needed to run an application reduces secondary data center costs as well, such as cooling and maintenance.

A Modular Approach to Virtualization

Verizon has taken a decidedly modular approach in packaging its virtualization services, creating individual product offerings for every stage of the technology lifecycle – from assessment to deployment to ongoing management – and for just about every customer need. It offers hosting as an option (not a requirement), and, although it is a VMware shop, Verizon consultants will work even with existing deployments of 'third party' technology.

Specifically, the suite consists of seven discrete professional services offerings.

Two – Server Consolidation Assessment and Server Consolidation Design – lay the groundwork for an organization to make the leap from non-virtualized to a virtualized environment for existing computing resources, based on a review of business and technical requirements.

A three-layered service, Secure Virtualization Assessment & Design, combines the above services with a security assessment of the proposed environment. (Verizon's security portfolio rests to a large extent on its 2007 acquisition of the global security services firm Cybertrust.)

The Virtualization Design service is for customers looking to create a new environment with virtualization as a key consideration, but who are not necessarily consolidating existing resources.

Virtualization Build is pretty much what it sounds like: installation of hardware and network infrastructure along with configuration of the virtualized application. Interestingly, Verizon Business is willing to implement a customer's own designs in this service, as well as its own.

Actually moving a customer's data and applications into the new virtualized environment is covered by the Virtualization Migration service.

Finally, Virtualization Deployment Review provides an assessment and feedback on virtualization environments implemented by customers or other third parties, including an industry best-practices evaluation.

Gregory was quick to point out that Verizon's virtualization-related professional services do not end with the assess-design-deploy-migrate cycle, but indeed are available through the complete technology lifecycle – which means ongoing management.

"That last phase is one of the differentiators that Verizon brings to the table," she told Enterprise Networking Planet – "the ability to design and implement a virtualization solution, but also to work with you to manage that at the end of the day."

Indeed, in addition to managing virtualized environments that it hosts in its data centers Verizon Business has remote application management capabilities (thanks to its acquisition of managed services provider Totality Corporation) and can monitor and manage virtual infrastructure as well as virtual applications running on those servers – either on the customer's premises or at a colocation facility.

Amy Larsen DeCarlo, principal analyst for managed IT services at the research firm Current Analysis, also touched on this theme in commenting on the Verizon announcement: 

"They've certainly had a lot of experience in this space just as a hosting provider. And they have the infrastructure – as well as the ability to actually manage their clients' facilities if necessary," she told Enterprise Networking Planet.

"As much as launching anything right now is going to be a challenge," DeCarlo said, "I think the timing may not be bad for this, because managed services around virtualization is actually one area where I think there is a real opportunity.

"There are some aspects of this that are very much focused on cost savings and server consolidation, and companies are looking at how they're going to cut current expenses, but they want to leverage some of the hardware they have in place, and this is an opportunity to do that."

While Verizon faces a "pretty complicated and competitive market," according to DeCarlo, "they have the network advantage. "Also they can go at this with a little more vendor neutrality than some of their competitors, so I think that will help them."

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