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Cisco puts service providers at center of the cloud

Vendor today gave its cloud strategy a name and a fine-tuned direction while stating unequivocally that it won’t compete with its cloud service provider customers

December 6, 2011

3 Min Read
Cisco puts service providers at center of the cloud

Cisco today laid out its full cloud strategy, giving the effort a name (Cisco CloudVerse) and a clear direction that puts cloud service providers of all sorts and sizes directly at the center.

As it did in the networking market, Cisco sees itself as an “arms supplier” in the cloud wars, rather than a cloud provider itself. Several rivals, including IBM and HP, seem intent on playing both sides of the fence, delivering enabling technologies but also offering cloud-based services themselves, Cisco executives said.

“We are throwing our lot in with the service providers,” said Pat Adamiak, senior director of cloud marketing at Cisco. “There won’t be a Cisco-branded cloud utility service.”

Cisco’s CloudVerse announcement today had a few new elements (more on that below) but at its core combines three key existing Cisco product efforts under this new umbrella: Unified Data Center, Cloud Intelligent Network and Cloud Applications and Services.

The big idea is that Cisco is able to provide the network on-ramps, blade-based server computing capabilities and baseline cloud service creation and management layer, while relying on partners for things it doesn’t have, perhaps most notably storage.

And more than anything, Cisco wants to help others – certainly IT departments (private clouds) but also managed service providers and telecom operators – become the cloud providers of tomorrow. And with a big focus on the role of the network.

“The network is essential,” said Pat Adamiak, senior director of cloud marketing at Cisco. “Lots of people, when they think about cloud, they think only about the data center. But that’s only one component of it. The collective discussion too often doesn’t seem to focus on the role of the network.”

While today’s CloudVerse announcement is in many ways about tying up all of Cisco’s existing cloud products with a pretty bow, it did include some new elements as well. New capabilities included a new unified management layer to help cloud providers manage their cloud environments end-to-end; new cloud-to-cloud connect capabilities, a recognition that the cloud isn’t a single data center but many interconnected ones; and new collaboration, video and third-party cloud services that can jump start cloud providers’ solution efforts, said Adamiak.

Given its heft in the networking and blade computing markets, it was not surprising to see Cisco able to pull quite a few large names out of its hat in support of its new CloudVerse strategy. On the service provider side, specifically, that included Orange Business Services; Telecom Italia; Telefonica S.A; Telstra; and Verizon’s Terremark.

Service providers are beginning to make strong inroads into the cloud market (often by acquisition); what they are struggling with now is how to differentiate their offerings, Cisco’s Adamiak said. “We’ve come full circle now to a world of many clouds,” he said, noting that is also leading to not just broad, horizontal infrastructure-as-a-service-driven clouds, but more specialized clouds serving vertical industries and other point-opportunities.

To take advantage of those opportunities, Cisco CloudVerse’s cloud management capabilities are focused on making it easier for cloud providers to turn up or tear down the not only the compute, storage and application capabilities needed to deliver as rapidly as possible, but the network as well – essentially virtualizing network resources much in the same way that computing and storage capacity is virtualized today, said Cisco’s Adamiak.

While Cisco has a lot of individual strands in its cloud play, Adamiak said today’s announcements includes some clear “firsts” for the vendor.

“It’s the first time we’ve been this bold and comprehensive with our cloud intent,” he said. “It’s the first time we’ve labeled it with ‘CloudVerse’. And it’s the first time across the company we’ve brought all we can bear together in an integrated fashion.”

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