Light Reading

Cisco Aims for '#1' in Hybrid Cloud

Mitch Wagner

SAN FRANCISCO -- CiscoLive -- The future is hybrid clouds, and Cisco plans to be on top. To that end, Cisco announced partnerships to accelerate its Intercloud strategy, as well as new executive leadership and reorganization for its Intercloud business.

The hybrid cloud takes advantage of the speed, scale, economics, and flexibility of the public cloud, along with control, security, and data sovereignty needed in a global economy, Rob Lloyd, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) president of development and sales, said at a keynote here Tuesday.

Cisco is now the number one provider of private clouds, Lloyd said. "Our aspiration right now is to be the number one provider of hybrid clouds."

Cisco's cloud strategy is built on Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and Intercloud, Lloyd said. "Those are basic building blocks to building Fast IT," Lloyd said, repeating a phrase John Chambers, Cisco CEO and chairman, used at Monday's keynote. (See Cisco's Chambers Predicts 'Brutal' Tech Consolidation.)

Cisco's Intercloud strategy, introduced two months ago, is to partner with local cloud providers to serve international markets, and application providers and vertical industry specialists, Lloyd said. Partners specialize in managed services, disaster recover, and hosting Microsoft and other enterprise applications. Intercloud supports Amazon APIs to move workloads between different vendors' clouds, and will support Microsoft Azure APIs within weeks. (See Cisco's Cloud Bet: What's in It for SPs?)

Lloyd compared Intercloud to roaming technology that allows individuals to use mobile phones anywhere in the world. Similarly, using Intercloud, applications will be able to roam between clouds, even between different vendors' hypervisors.

"We will demonstrate what SDN can do at scale," Lloyd said -- scaling Intercloud to 1 million endpoints and 65,000 tenants, using OpenStack to provide orchestration and automation.

On Tuesday, Cisco announced partnerships with Dimension Data and Sungard Availability Systems to provide cloud services, joining Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS), which announced its partnership when Cisco announced Intercloud in March. VCE and NetApp Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) will work with Cisco building cloud infrastructure. Johnson Controls said it will work with Cisco and partners to provide modular compute capacity. And Accenture licensed Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud software to expand cloud management and orchestration for its Accenture Cloud.

Cisco will use Dimension Data's Managed Cloud Platform and SaaS to deliver midmarket cloud services to customers and resellers. The two companies will partner on infrastructure-as-a-service and software-as-a-service, including Microsoft SQL Server and SharePoint.

Cisco named Nick Earle to lead the Cloud and Managed Services organization, reporting to Edzard Overbeek, Cisco vice pesident of services; Gee Rittenhouse to lead the new Cloud and Virtualization Group under executive vice president and chief development officer Pankaj Patel; and Faiyaz Shahpurwala will continue to lead the cloud infrastructure and managed services organization, reporting to Overbeek. Cisco is consolidating three groups of 3,700 people in a single cloud group.

Cisco is walking a tightrope with its cloud strategy, on the one hand needing to take leadership in cloud while on the other hand avoiding competing with its channel partners. The strategy provides opportunities for service provider partners to leverage Cisco's market clout and technology, but they risk becoming dependent on the Cisco relationship.

Cisco will offer Intercloud with its own brand, jointly branded with partners, and under the partner brand as well.

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