By Barry Levine / Top Tech News. Updated September 14, 2010.
Verizon announced Tuesday that has launched a new cloud-computing service aimed at small and midsize businesses. The company said the new offering, called Computing as a Service, SMB, is "tailored to companies that have limited IT resources and do not want to own or manage their IT infrastructure."
The key targets are retailers, manufacturers and professional-services firms, in addition to independent IT departments in larger companies.
'More Agile, Productive, Cost Effective'
Verizon said that, unlike many competing cloud services, its CaaS SMB has built-in security, including virtual private networks, and options for companies to add additional security. Previous computing configurations of data and servers can be maintained when they're moved to the cloud.
Carrie Gray, Verizon's executive director of midsize businesses, said the "new offering will help SMBs tap cloud technology to be more agile, productive and cost effective" in order to compete in a global economy without "having to build and maintain a high-capital, high-maintenance infrastructure to meet their IT needs."
The service, available immediately, provides a web-based console, which the company said is easy to use without an IT or technical background. There's no minimum commitment or long-term contract, and pricing is only for resources used.
Also offered is full backups as well as server cloning for making carbon copies for additional protection, version control, or rapid deployment. Capacity can be shared on the virtual-server farm via hardware load balancing, and Verizon said the CaaS SMB can be used with "almost any operating system."
No specific programming language is required for the platform, which runs on VMware vCloud Express. Firewall rule sets can be added on demand, and Verizon said it will work with clients to create company-specific security programs as needed.
'Everything as a Service'
The new SMB-oriented service is part of Verizon's ongoing cloud-computing portfolio. In fact, Gray said Verizon Business is evolving into "Everything as a Service," with cloud-based services delivered globally.
Last month, the company announced a higher-end cloud service, which provides more managed services designed for enterprises that might continue to have some IT activities in-house. That service, coming early next year, is being tested by such global clients as InterContinental Hotels, whose employees can communicate with local data centers instead of a central one.
But for SMBs, the infrastructure is not yet Verizon's. In order to launch quickly for the SMB market, the service is being launched on the infrastructure and data centers of Terremark, a global IT provider, while enterprise-level services run on Verizon's network.
Verizon said clients of the new SMB offering can readily move up to the higher service. Cloud-based services for businesses of all sizes are becoming a very competitive space, with offerings from Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, Google and others.