Verizon’s cloud consulting: Helping hand, foot in the door or throat to choke?

Verizon Business (NYSE: VZ) is positioning its new cloud-computing consulting offering – which fluidly combines consultation, professional services and some of the carrier’s own managed telecom/IT services – as an open-ended best-of-breed approach. The company hopes to advise enterprises on their cloud strategies, whether based on internal or third-party infrastructure or a hybrid of the two, even when those enterprises get their cloud computing services from a competitor to Verizon – say, Savvis, Rackspace or AT&T.

“The client may want our full support or just a helping hand,” said Bruce Biesecker, senior strategist at Verizon Business. “They may want design help or other resources. Or they may just want us to provide some training and then fade out into sunset gracefully.”

On one hand, enterprises with gradual hybrid cloud migration strategies could benefit from having both its internal and external clouds managed holistically by a single entity. And many of them may already use Verizon’s managed hosting services.

But Verizon’s approach also creates the opportunity for the carrier to point people toward its own cloud services, announced this summer. For example, the company plans a particular focus on advising customers on security aspects of the cloud, which can easily lead to a discussion about one of its own core competencies and can occur at any stage in a company’s cloud migration.

But where customers get their clouds from someone else, Verizon is also offering to manage the performance of its rivals’ service.

“Some customers have a cloud up and running, but it’s difficult to monitor and manage it,” Biesecker said. “They may not have the expertise to see how the data should flow.”

Focusing on stringent support is one way to highlight the weaknesses of cloud pioneers like Amazon.com. And Verizon may be an especially attentive watchdog when it is measuring the performance of its competitors’ services. (The company was short on details about exactly how such performance monitoring would take place.)

At the same time, some customers might question the value of a middleman in the system. After all, Verizon wouldn’t be able to fix an Amazon.com outage. It might notify the customer or, if the customer wants, Verizon would notify Amazon directly as well. But in the process, it is promising to decrease rather than increase the number of “throats to choke.”

“People with hybrid solutions are tired of having four or five different people report things — one team says, ‘I handed it off clean,’” Biesecker said.

Will those disputes decrease when Verizon is managing a competitor’s service? What do YOU think? Leave a comment below.

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