How Google Could Woo More Customers Away From Amazon and Microsoft With Help From Cisco

October 25, 2017, 12:00 PM UTC

Google and Cisco are working together so that shared customers can run new business software in their own data centers or on Google’s cloud, or a combination of the two. That mixed model is known as hybrid cloud computing.

The pairing looks good on paper. Cisco (CSCO) makes networking hardware and software that many companies now use to run their corporate networks. Google (GOOG) has massive cloud computing resources available to businesses. Cisco needs cloud credibility after a few false starts, and Google needs to show it works nicely with corporate workloads that run internally.

A public cloud—as exemplified by Google Cloud Platform or Amazon Web Services—is a vast array of servers, networking, and storage that companies can use in addition to or instead of their own data centers.

The collaboration includes a lot of moving parts, including joint work with Istio, free and open-source software backed by Google, IBM(IBM), and others as a standard way to connect and manage modular pieces of software called microservices. In the modern software era, these code snippets are used more and more by corporate developers to create business software applications.

Related: Why Fortune 500 Companies Trust Cloud More Than Ever

Another big piece of the project is use of Apigee software, which manages the application programming interfaces (APIs) that let different applications or microservices talk to each other and interact. Google bought Apigee last year for $625 million.

That’s a lot of jargon, but in plain English, the two companies promise to make it a lot easier for Fortune 500 and other companies to build software without worrying about where it will end up running.

Related: Is Hybrid the One, True Cloud?

“Think about this as a software stack that lets you build and consume things in the cloud or on premises,” Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice president of technical infrastructure tells Fortune. For most companies, he adds, it makes sense to run business software in both places. Moving existing applications from internal data centers to a third-party public cloud can be expensive, and older applications don’t take advantage of all the flexibility and power public cloud has to offer.

Related: Here’s Why Cisco Paying Nearly $2 Billion to Buy BroadSoft

Should this plan work as promised, it could help Google win corporate users to its cloud, which is seen as a distant third to public cloud giant Amazon (AMZN) and Microsoft Azure.

“We think of public cloud as a software stack. If that stack runs on thousands of internal clouds in a highly compatible way, that’s good for everyone,” Hölzle says. explaining this work with Cisco will put that compatible software potentially in a lot more of those internal clouds.

Google has inked other partnerships designed to woo corporate users. It signed one with Nutanix, a maker of data center hardware in June and another with Scale Computing earlier this month.

Related: Welcome to the Era of Great Data Center Consolidation

Most techies see Google, like AWS, as a public cloud that wants to vacuum up corporate tasks to run on its infrastructure. That one-way-street perception is something both companies are trying to change. In August, Amazon and VMware (VMW) launched software that lets VMware workloads to run on AWS in addition to internal data centers, for example.

Meanwhile, Microsoft (MSFT) is pushing its Azure public cloud and just-released Azure Stack software that runs in corporate data centers as the best way to go hybrid.

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