Cisco today announced advances to its Intercloud business, including new technical capabilities, partnerships with major telco and data center players including BT, Deutsche Telekom, Equinix and Portugal Telecom, and $1 billion in available financing for customers and partners through its Cisco Capital subsidiary.
Intercloud, announced earlier this year, is Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)'s "worldwide network of interconnected clouds" -- a "cloud of clouds," if you like.
To do that, it is working with telcos to allow enterprises to run their internal applications on multiple clouds. For its part, Cisco has developed a number of its own platforms, applications and services that can help communications service providers and enterprises be part of this global virtual network. (See Cisco Aims for '#1' in Hybrid Cloud, Can Cisco Help SPs Offer Cloud-based Apps?, Cisco's Cloud Bet: What's in It for SPs? and Cisco Goes Soft With APIC, Intercloud Announcements.)
The company also just announced the acquisition of Metacloud, a move that Cisco says will enhance its ability to enable hybrid public-private clouds. (See Cisco to Buy Metacloud for Hybrid Clouds.)
Now Cisco has strengthened its Intercloud ecosystem with a number of offerings and relationships.
Its new Intercloud Fabric software is designed to help users move workloads between public clouds, private clouds and Cisco cloud services, while its Virtualized Managed Services Solutions for Service Providers are designed to help Cisco's partners provide security, VPN and other services to enterprises. Cisco packages these capabilities together in Intercloud Services Bundles, to help enterprises build hybrid clouds. Intercloud Services Bundles include the Fabric software with optional UCS servers and infrastructure-as-a-service offerings.
The bundles are offered in conjunction with Cisco's telco partners, which can, in effect, extend their cloud services reach by teaming up with the vendor: Intercloud connects enterprise private clouds with Cisco cloud services, public clouds and partner clouds, and is designed to give enterprises flexibility and choice that no single provider can match, says Mike Riegel, Cisco VP of cloud.
In addition, Cisco and partners are building Intercloud APIs into converged infrastructure platforms from the likes of NetApp, VCE, EMC, Hitachi and Red Hat, meaning "if you buy one of their converged infrastructure boxes, it has Intercloud ready for it," Riegel said.
So far, Intercloud has amassed more than 30 partners, and today added Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and Equinix Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX) to that list. Its new partnerships extend Intercloud reach into a further 250 data centers in 50 countries, according to the vendor.
Ever keen to get carriers and enterprises deploying its technology and signing up for its services, Cisco has also set aside $1 billion at its Cisco Capital unit to help finance customers and partners adopting its cloud technologies.
Expression of freedom
Intercloud is designed to offer enterprises freedom of choice in clouds. "CIOs are really frustrated that they can't get a single aggregate view of their cloud usage. They can't move workloads. It's like Hotel California -- once you check in, you can never leave," Riegel said. That's not the way it should be. "If you're sick of Amazon, go to Cisco or Microsoft," Riegel says.
In addition to giving enterprises freedom to move workloads between cloud providers and private clouds, Intercloud is also designed to help enterprises and cloud providers meet "data sovereignty" regulatory requirements that force cloud providers to store information in its country of origin. For example, Russia requires "organizers of information distribution" to register with the government, and specifically cites Facebook, Google, and Twitter in those requirements, Riegel notes.
The issue of data sovereignty is also a key consideration in Germany, where Deutsche Telekom is deploying Intercloud nodes at its data centers, which are run by the operator's T-Systems unit. According to Cisco, those nodes will enable T-Systems to "deliver sovereign and secure infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings that meet Germany's strict data protection standards to business customers throughout the European region."
BT, meanwhile, will use the Cisco Intercloud Fabric to enhance its existing BT Cloud Compute capabilities to develop hybrid cloud services in 20 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Asia-Pacific and the Americas.
Cloudy with a chance of competition
While Cisco is partnering with many communications service providers, it also has the potential to be competing with them. For example, both Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) offer services to connect private and public clouds. (See CenturyLink Offers Private Clouds in Hybrid Management and Verizon Brings Thunder to the Cloud.)
There's room for multiple types of approaches, though. Data center operator and Cisco Intercloud partner Equinix also connect private clouds and public clouds, but sees its own offering, at the connectivity level, as complementary to Cisco's offering, which provides policy, orchestration, performance and applications management higher up the stack.
"We continue to go down the path of being a truly neutral service provider," says Equinix CTO Ihab Tarzi. "We want to provide our customers with all the environments they're looking for."