Barbarian at the gate: Verizon’s disruptive CloudSwitch buy

Verizon’s buy of innovative startup CloudSwitch is a nasty surprise to those who deny the growing power of telcos in the cloud.

After all, who would expect a telco to buy a firm that helps enterprises migrate apps securely to their competitors’ clouds, including Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Windows Azure?

Who’s the barbarian now?

Smug assertions about telcos’ inability to adapt to the Cloud Era don’t stand up against Verizon’s recent actions. They also challenge perceptions of who’s besieging whom.

Verizon’s $1.4 billion Terremark acquisition continues to be shaped as a cloud ‘diffusion’ line. CloudSwitch boosts positioning as a trusted cloud intermediary. Verizon’s deep cloud security skills – encompassing mobile devices – are another asset.

But Verizon isn’t alone in cloud smarts; Japan’s NTT Group is too. Through its stalking horse Dimension Data (acquired in 2010 for $3.2 billion) and a host of other acquisitions (including two in 2011) NTT is steadily building a diverse arsenal to help enterprises move to the cloud.

Not least, NTT will share the spoils. It also sells cloud expertise to other telcos like the Philippines’ PLDT, India’s BSNL and Hong Kong’s Hutchison Global Communications.

Another Golden Horde

Among the 90+ operators tracked in the Informa Telecom Cloud Monitor, most are simply offering commodity services, and going broke for scale.

But Verizon and NTT are among an elite advance guard. Telcos in heritage they may be, but they’re transforming to win. For both, that means taking actions that grow the entire market, even if so-called competitors may also profit. That’s a mature recognition that a multi-cloud world is emerging.

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