Cisco plans $1B investment in global cloud infrastructure

By partnering with the likes of Australian operator Telstra, Cisco hopes to catch up with competition

By , IDG News Service |  Networking, Cisco Systems

Cloud Services is an expansion of its existing the Cisco Powered program. The line-up includes a version of SAP Hana optimized for Cisco's Unified Compute System; its own desktop virtualization product as well as solutions from VMware and Citrix; and a number of in-house developed services for hosted security and collaboration. Cisco plans to sell these services through channel partners and directly to end customers, it said.

Cisco is announcing its $1 billion cloud push at the company's Partner Summit conference in Las Vegas this week.

The announcement is primarily geared toward Cisco resellers and channel partners, which may be considering ramping up their enterprise-focused cloud services to compete with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and other cloud providers, noted Robert Mahowald, program vice president for software as a service and cloud software for analyst firm IDC.

"Cisco is very channel sensitive," Mahowald said. "InterCloud is not so much about building customer-ready cloud services, but enabling partners to build clouds, with software-defined infrastructure. They want to sell more gear to partners as partners face the opportunity of selling cloud services."

The InterCloud concept could allow enterprises to shift their workloads from one InterCloud provider to another, avoiding the lock-in that may happen when a customer relies too heavily on a single cloud provider. Each Cisco partner will use OpenStack cloud software and Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) architecture.

"I think customers will want embrace the idea that the cloud is not a single vendor lock, but based on specifications that are widely supported," Mahowald said.

Cisco's knowledge of the enterprise plays a key role in the new offerings, agreed Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT analyst firm.

"Many enterprises have been slow or loathe to adopt cloud due to critical security and data governance issues. Cisco's goal of enabling processes, data and solutions to be shared across multiple global cloud service providers is a concept that could and should be attractive to many of its enterprise customers," King wrote, by email.

"The company is aiming to expand on its already significant position in enterprise and service provider networking by becoming the network plumbing contractor for global cloud services and deployments. For service providers and their customers, access to rock solid networking technology is key to cloud dependability. That core requirement is what Cisco is banking on," King wrote.

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