I just learned that Marvin Wheeler is leaving Terremark, having completed their transition into Verizon. Marvin is one of nicest and most interesting people I’ve worked with.

I met Marvin at EMC’s “Road to the Private Cloud” analyst meeting late in 2009. Terremark was a featured EMC customer “poster boy” talking about the government business they had been capturing into their new Cloud data center offering. I asked Marvin what the key to their value proposition was. He said that his answer would probably surprise me: it was the security that they provided. He was right. At the time (and to a large degree still today) security shows up on the “con” side of the Cloud ledger, not on the “pro.” I asked Marvin if we could follow up on the topic and he arranged a follow on briefing with Chris Day, Terremark’s security leader.

Marvin explained that five years prior he had hired Chris, noting that whenever computer crime was mentioned in the Miami papers Chris was always the expert quoted. In that time, Chris had built up an interesting set of security services sold togovernment clients and in support of areas like forensic accounting. They specialized in what you did after you had been penetrated, not just preventing penetration (until recently, the prime focus of the “security companies”): discovering penetration; understanding the nature of the threat and scope; stoping the threat; remediating the damage. Terremark had realized that in a virtualized SP data center they could offer versions of these services that were pre-wired into the infrastructure fabric (rather than having to be patched in after an attack) and they could provide the expertise to use these offerings whereas their government customers couldn’t on their own. On balance, although you might be slightly more vulnerable to penetration in a multi-tenant data center (or at least it was arguable), you were clearly better off if you were penetrated. Terremark was way head of the rest of the world being able to view the Cloud as a new medium with new opportunities rather than something where you did what you always did.

I was impressed and added Marvin to my “bright people worth keeping in touch with” list, and discovered along the way he was one of the “nice” guys in the business, always possible to reach and always useful to talk to. More recently, Marvin as been central to the formation of the Open Data Center Alliance that was spun out of CIO discussions that Intel had. I would guess that the Cloud purists think this is another example of how hopeless private clouds are, but ODCA is an important venue for making progress on building practical hybrid Cloud integrations.

I can understand completely why Terremark all of a sudden getting much bigger quickly is a time to move on. I’m sure Marvin will show up somewhere interesting soon enough, and wish him the best!