AMD and Verizon Redefining the Scalable Cloud: Suddenly Intel’s Shadow Isn’t So Deep

    Earlier this week, AMD and Verizon announced a major IT initiative. At the core of it was a huge win by AMD’s SeaMicro unit, showcasing that the AMD turnaround has taken a distinct turn away from Intel. I spent some time getting briefed about this last week and this week, and while I see some potential issues, one thing is clear: AMD is attempting to step sharply away from Intel.

    At the core of this offering is something called Freedom Fabric. While the obvious implication might be freedom from Intel, it actually applies to the customer and reflects the freedom they have with regard to how they can provision the service.

    I think this is potentially a game changer for both Verizon and AMD. Let me explain why.

    New Generation of Cloud Services

    The first generation of cloud services was largely based on existing hardware with tweaks to software, which allowed customers to create the configuration they needed on the fly. It initially was more promise than reality, and complaints about the time it took to provision and the cost for capabilities that weren’t being used tended to dominate the first group of early adopters.

    The second generation brought sharp improvements to the software and service capabilities that surrounded these services. Solutions like Amazon Web Services came to market; they were vastly easier to configure but mostly still based on older, though improved, hardware architectures, and while also improved, reliability often remained a big problem.

    The third generation will likely be driven by products like the AMD-announced SeaMicro SM1500 server, a platform that has been reimagined from the processor on up specifically for these kinds of loads, promising faster configuration, vastly better power efficiency, and sharply improved reliability. You typically get this when what is learned about a new market is factored into the creation of hardware specifically designed for the unique aspects of that market. These new SeaMicro systems went through this process and were designed with cloud services in mind.


    Verizon as a hosting company is just as interesting as the technology. This is because utility-class carriers have economies of scale most firms could only dream of.  However, to get there they tend to be very rigid in terms of what they can offer because they have to make sure everything is generic. They can’t handle a great deal of customization, typically. However, the very nature of cloud services creates a requirement where these services are highly configurable on the fly and the SeaMicro AMD-based hardware is designed specifically to provide a lot of configurable differences.

    As a result, Verizon will likely provide a generic set of very configurable services because the technology allows Verizon to see the consistency it requires and the customer to get the rich set of options defined by this class. In other words, thanks to the years of work done to create highly configurable cloud services on identical hardware (how most cloud services providers are now provisioned), you get what amounts to a perfect storm of consistency of highly configurable services. Verizon effectively turned an oxymoron into an achievable goal.

    So what should result is utility-class services that are highly and quickly configurable, with carrier-level corporate pricing, which has historically been a fraction of what on-premise solutions cost.

    Wrapping Up: A Unique Solution

    As I think of this Verizon solution, it is really very different from what other cloud providers or carriers can currently provide. From the cloud providers’ perspective, this is in the carrier class, and that is pretty unique when it comes to fully featured cloud services. From a carrier perspective, it should be best in class with regard to flexibility and ease of configuration, not generally thought to be carrier strengths. If Verizon can execute on this sharply, it potentially has a solution that could give Amazon pause, and Amazon is currently the firm that is scaring most of the traditional IT firms. And at the core of this is AMD, which clearly is stepping out from Intel’s shadow.

    Rob Enderle
    Rob Enderle
    As President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, Rob provides regional and global companies with guidance in how to create credible dialogue with the market, target customer needs, create new business opportunities, anticipate technology changes, select vendors and products, and practice zero dollar marketing. For over 20 years Rob has worked for and with companies like Microsoft, HP, IBM, Dell, Toshiba, Gateway, Sony, USAA, Texas Instruments, AMD, Intel, Credit Suisse First Boston, ROLM, and Siemens.

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