Verizon Plunges Into the Mist with new Cloud Services – What Does This Show About a SysAdmin’s Future?

Network Computing recently reported that Verizon has entered the cloud services market with the help of a McAfee backend. Apparently in June of 2010 Verizon SMB customers with 50Mbps or less connections will be given free e-mail and Web security powered by McAfee’s MXLogic service that Verizon itself hosts in their own datacenters.

But that’s not all. That is merely phase 1 of a 3 phase plan. According to the article, phase 2 will introduce “cloud-based network firewall and intrusion detection/prevention services” in the fall of 2010 and phase three will add DDoS mitigation in 2011.

Interestingly, Verizon currently offers to manage on-site firewalls, but their cloud services based network protection will be able to consolidate thousands of clients and polices on blade chassis systems in their datacenters. That same infrastructure is how Verizon handles DDoS attacks on current customers (built itself off of Arbor Networks technology). The firewall is pushed out of the customer’s building and into Verizon’s network.

Yes, these services will be given to customers for free. The marketing thought behind that is to wrest business away from other carriers as well as prepare Verizon customers to buy other services such as on-site security services which are provided through McAfee.

An interesting observation is that SMBs are asking for email and web security features to be free, but are willing to pay in other areas (so then it’s not really “free”, but I digress…). Jonathan Nguyen-Duy, Verizon Business director is quoted as saying: “Clients say they won’t pay for the services, but will consolidate all my MPLS traffic onto you.” So seemingly they will be willing to pay higher connection prices for the simplification of hosted services.

What’s the primary interest in this article to SysAdmins? My first thought was: “The systems that we as IT people are often paid to engineer and support are being moved away from us.” However, I stared at that sentence for a moment sensing that something was wrong.

Then it hit me. The systems aren’t being moved away from us! They’re being moved away from the places we have traditionally been employed. The systems are moving away from the high liability and high cost of being on-site under the direct care of individual businesses and towards the (supposed) safety of offsite specialist providers.

I used the word “supposed” because the true safety and service provided is purely determined by the practices of the services provider which will vary. However, in theory a hosted services provider should be more capable of securing a few specialty services for less cost than an individual business’s internal IT departments would be at generalizing in many different areas.

Nuts-and-bolts services like email, collaboration tools and even client backups and anti-virus management will probably be increasingly outsourced. SysAdmins take note: They are not being outsourced away from us! They are moving to different groups of SysAdmins. If the job is moving away from you, change positions to be where it is moving to.

Those worried and/or complaining about the changing IT landscape (such as myself in the very recent past) should not ask “Who Moved My Cheese?!” but should simply move to the cheese… or make their own cheese as the case may be.

I’m curious to know who is pushing for these services to be outsourced to service providers. Is it the IT departments themselves or is it management? In my experience as a SysAdmin, I’ve lobbied both for and against hosted services.

What do you think about this push towards hosted services? Have you moved anything in your IT department over to a hosted provider? Have you fought against it? (I raised my hand for both of those questions) Do you think IT departments are going to be thinned out and moved to hosted services providers? Are you preparing for it? I am. More an that in future posts…


  1. Ronald Pottol

    May 24, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Verizon has had cloud services for a while, called CaaS, you can outsource as much or as little to them management wise as you want. Only thing about moving to where the jobs are, some are in India, the higher end stuff is in the USA (and offers a very high level of service). Exactly who is supporting what is going to change soon though.


  2. Wesley.Nonapeptide

    May 24, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Thanks for the comment Ronald and double thanks for the pointer to Verizon’s CaaS. I just spent some time perusing it. Here’s a link for those interested:

    I’ll have to investigate further to see where Verizon is taking it. I think ATT also offers similar services. However, my experience with ISPs make me very, very cautious about relying on them for much of anything.

    So when you say “Exactly who is supporting what is going to change soon though,” do you mean that the higher end stuff that is currently outsourced within the USA (or UK as the case may be) will eventually all be outsourced to India?


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