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Cisco Expands Cloud Partner Network with Microsoft Azure Integration

Cisco and Microsoft announced a technology integration effort today that promises to expand the options of Cisco's cloud service provider partners, allowing them to more easily tap Microsoft Azure cloud computing resources.

Cisco currently has more than 60 partners centered on its Intercloud effort, which is based on the OpenStack cloud architecture. This new technology integration effort with Microsoft will expand on Cisco's Intercloud effort by facilitating partner use of Microsoft's proprietary Azure infrastructure. Intercloud is a Cisco effort, first announced back in January 2014, that provides solutions for cloud service providers. The program is supposed make it easier for them to deliver public, private and hybrid cloud computing services.

With today's announcement, Microsoft and Cisco announced a new technology platform, called "Cisco Cloud Architecture for the Microsoft Cloud Platform." It provides "prepackaged policy management libraries" that Cisco's cloud service provider partners can use to simplify the deployment of "new apps and services" when accessing Microsoft's Azure cloud computing resources.

Specifically, the two companies are integrating the Windows Azure Pack, Microsoft's collection of technologies for cloud-enabling Windows Server 2012 R2, with Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). Microsoft first joined Cisco's ACI effort, which provides open APIs for network operations such as management, monitoring, storage and virtualization, back in 2013.

The new platform developed by Cisco and Microsoft will facilitate matters for Cisco's cloud service provider partners, according to Aziz Benmalek, general manager of Microsoft's Hosting Service Provider business.

"Because the application and infrastructure policies will be pre-configured and in an application policy library in Windows Azure Pack, service providers will be able deploy new services and applications with much greater speed," Benmalek explained, in a blog post.

The effort involves "integrating the Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) directly into the Windows Azure Pack," explained Kit Beal, vice president for the Cloud and Managed Services Partner Organization at Cisco, in another blog post. Beal recounted that Microsoft's partnership with Cisco extends to integrating System Center and PowerShell management tools as well, which enables Cisco's cloud service partners to more quickly set up tenants and establish backup and recovery services

"The result of our joint engineering work enables operational simplicity and control via streamlined integration between Microsoft System Center and our Cisco UCS [Unified Computing System] server platform," Beal explained.

The two companies previously had established a partnership supporting Cisco's management tools. Back in July, Cisco and Microsoft announced a three-year agreement that included integrating System Center modules into the Cisco UCS Manager product, which is used to manage UCS hardware and software components. That partnership effort also added support for Windows Server 2003 migrations, facilitating customer moves to Windows Server 2012 R2 housed on Cisco UCS infrastructure.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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