Cisco expands Intercloud alliance

Cisco Announces Quarterly Earnings
SAN JOSE, CA - AUGUST 10: A sign is posted in front of the Cisco Systems headquarters on August 10, 2011 in San Jose, California. Cisco Systems reported better-than-expected fourth quarter revenues with a 3.3 percent rise to $11.2 billion as the company continues to scale down its business. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Photograph by Justin Sullivan — Getty Images

Cisco is trying to aggregate a bigger cloud presence by beefing up its proposed Intercloud network of partner-run clouds each running Cisco’s version of OpenStack and, it hopes, other Cisco hardware and software.

To that end the company has updated the Cisco (CSCO) Intercloud Fabric with better security and said 35 new software vendor partners including Basho, Chef, Hortonworks, and MongoDB will run natively on Intercloud. There may be some fuzzy arithmatic here, however, since an executive with one of the vendors listed by Cisco, said his company has not agreed to integrate with Intercloud. Hmmm.

Since Intercloud is basically OpenStack and most of the software vendors listed already support OpenStack, it’s unclear how big a differentiator Cisco’s proposed system really is.

Some 350 data centers worldwide now run Cisco’s Intercloud software, although total capacity in terms of total virtual machines was not known. The news comes out of the Cisco Live event in San Diego.


Basically, Cisco’s idea is to enlist a raft of data center partners to run the same set of software and services on their infrastructure. With identical technology stacks running at many sites, moving data and applications from one to another becomes easier. Several legacy IT players are banking on this idea of multiple-yet-similar clouds to give them capacity enough to compete with public cloud giant Amazon (AMZN) Web Services. And Cisco vowed that users could use one screen to manage jobs running in all those clouds.

Cisco’s strategy here sounds a lot like that which rival Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) proposes with its OpenStack-based Helion product, a contention that Cisco Senior Vice President Nick Earle acknowledged while adding that HP tried to get into the public infrastructure race to compete with Amazon Web Services, before pulling back.

HP, he said, also lacks the partner ecosystem to make a true federation of independent clouds successful. (HP would likely beg to differ there.)

Cynics often point out that legacy hardware vendors view their clouds as a captive market to sell more of their hardware. In this case, Intercloud partners run the Cisco flavor of OpenStack—either on Cisco hardware or some other X86-based server.

“Clearly we’re in the business to make money, so when partners adopt Intercloud we damn well want to sell more stuff, but we also solve a fundamental problem for our customers who want the same level of security, policy, control, and management across all these clouds,” Earle said. “That can only be good for Cisco partners and customers.”



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