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The Network is the Computer

When I joined Sun Microsystems in 2002, Scott McNealy had a saying “The Network is the computer” which turned out to be an amazing view into the future.  A decade later, Cloud Computing is a reality, and key to the concept of Cloud Computing is networking – in fact, I would say the main tenant is: compute, storage, and services on the network. Unfortunately for Sun (now Oracle) and even companies like IBM, they don’t have a Network.

This is what I was thinking about when the recently announced partnership between AT&T and IBM to combine AT&T’s networking capabilities with IBM’s cloud offerings – “Look someone else gets the point that the combination of a core network and a cloud offering is a compelling proposition.” The centerpiece of this partnership is adding secure networking to the cloud through automation of the connectivity over AT&T’s network.  I am hugely supportive of anything that advances the adoption of Cloud Computing, and security is still one of the major inhibitors of adoption in the enterprise, so this announcement sounds pretty good.

However, securely connecting to a public cloud isn’t really a new concept.  In fact, Verizon and Terremark have been offering this for years.  About 50% of our enterprise customers take advantage of our private networking functions including MPLS and VPN services to connect to our cloud.  Add to that the dynamic capabilities of CloudSwitch for creating automatic secured links from the customers environments to the clouds, and you have a complete picture of existing technologies and of how enterprises are already securely connecting to the cloud.  Beyond the native capabilities of Verizon Terremark, there are vendors like Cisco, Citrix, Juniper, and F5, as well as a plethora of startups and small companies that provide many forms of “cloud bridging” that will securely connect a public cloud to the enterprise.

It’s great to see AT&T and IBM recognizing the importance of both networking and cloud services.  This is why Verizon Terremark made major moves to expand our data center, software development, security technologies and cloud capabilities over the last few years.  We believe that it is important to tightly integrate these capabilities to deliver the performance customers need to adopt cloud computing. But the catch is – this is best achieved by getting these services from a single company whose infrastructure and services are unified and have been enterprise grade from day one, compared to a partnership where the sum is only as good as its different parts.

With our global IP network, 4G LTE wireless network, nearly  50 data centers, and huge investments in security and software development, we are rapidly moving to the point where “The Network is the Computer”, and we really mean it.

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