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Cisco To Provide 'World's Largest' Cloud

Cisco today is bringing new meaning to the old saying, "if you can't beat them, join them."

The company today said it will invest $1 billion over the next two years to offer what it argues will be the world's largest cloud. But rather than trying to beat Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Rackspace, IBM, Hewlett Packard, Salesforce.com, VMware and other major providers that offer public cloud services, Cisco said it will "join" them together, figuratively.

Cisco said it will endeavor to build its so-called "Intercloud" --  or cloud of clouds -- aimed at letting enterprise customers move workloads between private, hybrid and public cloud services. Of course Cisco isn't the only provider with that lofty goal but Fabio Gori, the company's director of cloud marketing, said it's offering standards-based APIs that will help build applications that can move among clouds and virtual machines.

"This is going to be the largest Intercloud in the world," Gori said. Cisco is building out its own datacenters globally but is also tapping partners with cloud infrastructure dedicated to specific counties to support data sovereignty requirements. Gorisaid Cisco will help build out their infrastructures to spec and those providers will be part of the Intercloud.

Gori emphasized Intercloud will be based on OpenStack, the open source cloud infrastructure platform that many cloud providers, including Rackspace, IBM, HP and numerous others, support. But there are key players including Amazon, Microsoft and Google, who don't support it. Gori said Cisco can work around that by using the respective providers' APIs and offering in its own programming interfaces for partners to deliver application-specific offerings.

Core to this is the Intercloud fabric management software, announced in late January at the Cisco Live! conference in Milan, Italy. The Intercloud fabric management software, now in trial and slated for release next quarter, is the latest component of the Cisco One cloud platform that's designed to securely tie together multiple hybrid clouds.

Among the cloud providers now on board are Australian service provider Telstra, Canadian communications provider Allstream, European cloud provider Canopy, cloud services aggregator and distributor Ingram Micro, managed services provider Logicalis Group, BI software vendor  MicroStrategy, Inc., OnX Managed Services, SunGard Availability Services and outsourcing company Wipro.

Gori insists Cisco is lining up many other partners, large and small, from around the world. It remains to be seen if Amazon, Microsoft and Rackspace are in the mix. Asked how Cisco's effort is different from VMware, which is also building a public cloud and enhancing it with local partners, Gori pointed out that its service supports any hypervisor.

Cisco will announce more partners and deliverables at its Cisco Live! conference in San Francisco in May. Whether or not Microsoft is one of those players remains to be seen in the future, he said. "Microsoft is a very big player and is going to be part of this expanded Intercloud," he said. "We are going to do something specific around the portfolio."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 03/24/2014 at 1:29 PM


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