The news Thursday evening that Egypt had severed itself from the global Internet came at the same time as an ostensibly far less inflammatory announcement closer to home. Verizon, the telecom giant, would acquire "cloud computing company" Terremark for $1.4 billion. The purchase would "accelerate Verizon's 'everything-as-a-service' cloud strategy," the press release said.
The trouble is that Terremark isn't merely a cloud computing company. Or, more to the point, the cloud isn't really a cloud.
Among its portfolio of data centers in the US, Europe and Latin America, Terremark owns one of the single most important buildings on the global Internet, a giant fortress on the edge of Miami's downtown known as the NAP of the Americas.
The Internet is a network of networks. But what's often forgotten is that those networks actually have to physically connect -- one router to another -- often through something as simple and tangible as a yellow-jacketed fiber-optic cable. It's safe to suspect a network engineer in Egypt had a few of them dangling in his hands last night.
Terremark's building in Miami is the physical meeting point for more than 160 networks from around the world. They meet there because of the building's excellent security, its redundant power systems, and its thick concrete walls, designed to survive a category 5 hurricane. But above all, they meet there because the building is "carrier-neutral." It's a Switzerland of the Internet, an unallied territory where competing networks can connect to each other. Terremark doesn't have a dog in the fight. Or at least it didn't.