CSC: The Cloud's quiet whiz kid

CSC: The Cloud's quiet whiz kid

"They're flying under the radar"

When most people who track the industry think of the Cloud computing market, big names like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google, Rackspace, Verizon Terremark and others come to mind. HP, Joyent, IBM and Dell even. But Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC)?

Each year research firm Gartner puts out its Magic Quadrant, and this year's report caused some to do a double-take. CSC beat out all those other companies except for Amazon and was the only company named with AWS in the coveted "leaders" quadrant of the report.

While CSC has long-time IT industry roots in traditional outsourcing, IT consulting and services, it hasn't been a household name in the cloud computing market. "I was completely surprised," says Brian McCallion, an independent cloud architect with consultancy Bronze Drum. "I've looked at a whole bunch of providers and they've never really come up. They're flying under the radar."

David Linthicum, another consultant at Cloud Technology Partners, says he works with hundreds of customers a year and he's never worked on a CSC deployment.

But Gartner says CSC is a major force in the cloud. In order to even be considered for the Magic Quadrant a provider must have one of the top 15 providers of IaaS market share based on estimated revenue. Gartner Vice President Lydia Leong is the lead researcher on the Magic Quadrant report for IaaS and said at the beginning of the project she wasn't sure CSC would make the cut, but after vetting more than 20 providers, CSC rose to the top of the heap, behind AWS.

"What sets them apart from other VMware-based competitors is that I don't think they view this market as one where they get customers VMs (virtual machines) faster and cheaper," she says. "They've seen it all along as a vehicle to transform the enterprise."

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The woman behind CSC's cloud strategy is Siki Giunta, the company's vice president and general manager of cloud. Back in 2010 the company embarked on a strategy to embrace cloud services as a supplement to the company's traditional outsourcing business. The cloud is a busy and crowded market, but Giutna says it's still in its early days.

One use case for a powerhouse like Amazon has been attracting developers who use the services behind the back of IT. CSC is going after a different demographic.

"The market's really going to be made when the enterprise, large and medium businesses, move their strategic and mission critical workloads to the cloud and use the cloud as a new delivery mechanism," Giunta says. "This is when IT moves from a capital to an operating expense, when applications are modernized to become multi-tenant and embrace agility."

CSC offers three major buckets of service: its multi-tenant public cloud option is named CloudCompute, which is hosted in CSC data centers and typically comes with month-to-month commitments. BizCloud VPE is a similar service that's still hosted at CSC data centers but provides private networks and logically separated resources for customers, creating dedicated resources for customers. Finally there is BizCloud, which is an offering that sits on customers' premises behind their firewall and acts as a private cloud.

CSC has been building up its partnerships too recently. The company has lasting relationships with VMware, Cisco and SAP to ensure products and services from those companies work in CSC outsourcing options. Recently, CSC signed another strategic partnership with AT&T, which Giunta says will provide a networking backbone to support connections between customer sites and CSC's cloud. "We see cloud as a vector, where the application will pick where it will run," between a public or private cloud, she says. "Cloud without a dynamic network is just a nice piece of furniture."

It's a markedly different strategy than say AWS, which offers a public cloud computing option that users can assemble in a variety of different ways, with a market-leading set of services that are bolted on to it. AWS offers everything from SQL and NoSQL databases, various types of long and short-term storage, a content delivery network and access to massive-scale compute capacity; Gartner reported that AWS now offers five times the compute capacity of all of its IaaS competitors combined.

But that's not what's appealing to some CIOs. Network World asked to speak with a customer or partner of CSC, but the company could not supply one. The company's website does have more than two dozen examples of customers using its services. HD Smith, for example, is a pharmaceutical distribution company in the Midwest. CIO David Guzman says the company migrated both its "cloud-ready" ecommerce and ordering software to the cloud and added a disaster recovery option using CSC. Other applications, like the company's core SAP functionality, have been a slower process migrating to the cloud. He chose to work with CSC because the company, he says, excels in supporting both of those environments.

"If you're going to move everything to the cloud immediately at once, then you have a lot of options you can look at in the market," he says. "But if in fact it's a journey in which you'll have some of your applications still be in platforms and technologies that are not cloud ready, then you need a provider who can do the traditional outsourcing the dedicated environment and the cloud environment, and the ability to migrate between the two."

Leong says that's where CSC excels customers who don't want to own their data center any more and are looking to embark on the journey of migrating those applications to the cloud, with the consultation of their provider.

Guzman says replicating the deployment that he created in CSC's cloud at his own site would have been a nine-figure investment.

CSC has been a quiet leader in the early days of the cloud computing market, but as the industry matures, it will face increased competition. On the public cloud side, Amazon is not going away and has been ramping up its message to appeal to enterprises and CIOs, not just its stronghold with developers. On the private cloud side, VMware is stepping up its game too, having recently launched its vCloud Hybrid Service. While partners like CSC can offer VMware services in their cloud, VMware is now offering these services itself.

Giunta's not worried. CSC has been a leader in the cloud for years, even if those in the industry don't immediately think of the CSC and the cloud synonymously.

Senior Writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing for Network World and He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW. Read his Cloud Chronicles here.

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