Cisco Systems officials are looking to extend the company's reach in the highly competitive cloud computing space through a partnership with cloud software maker Pivotal, one of several vendors that make up data storage giant EMC's federation of companies.
The agreement calls for Cisco and Pivotal to resell each other's cloud computing technologies, with the goal of giving end users a complete offering that touches on private, public and hybrid clouds. Through the partnership, the vendors will jointly sell Pivotal Cloud Foundry, an open-source cloud development platform.
Pivotal was created in 2013 when it spun off from EMC and virtualization technology provider VMware, another of EMC's federated companies. In addition, in conjunction with Pivotal Cloud Foundry, the two vendors will market Cisco's Metapod, an on-premises cloud solution based on the OpenStack software suite that is engineered, deployed and remotely operated by Cisco. It gives customers a private cloud environment that they don't have to worry about, according to Cisco officials.
Combined, Pivotal Cloud Foundry and Cisco's Metapod will offer customers a complete turnkey enterprise cloud platform, officials with the companies said.
"With the integration of Cisco Metapod and Pivotal Cloud Foundry, Cisco is pulling together the leading managed private cloud solution with the leading cloud-native developer experience to help customers quickly and easily modernize their IT along their digital transformation journey," Peder Ulander, vice president of Cisco's Cloud and Managed Services unit, said in a statement.
The partnership comes at challenging times for both companies. Cisco executives over the past several years have worked to expand the vendor's reach beyond its network switch and router roots, aiming to make the company an enterprise IT solutions and services provider. Cisco is pushing to embrace the challenge presented by software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV), technologies that put much of the networking jobs into software that can run on hardware that is less expensive than the switches the company has sold for decades.
Cisco has answered with the Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), a combination of hardware and software that is designed to provide the same levels of flexibility, programmability and openness that SDN and NFV bring to infrastructures. CEO Chuck Robbins said the 2-year-old business has reached a $2 billion run rate and grew more than 100 percent in the most recent financial quarter.
Beyond networking, Cisco is targeting such areas as the data center, collaboration, video and the cloud. The company two years ago launched its Intercloud initiative to be the foundation of a series of connected global networks. In addition, Cisco officials have looked to build up the company's cloud capabilities through both in-house development and outside acquisitions. For example, Cisco last year bought Piston Cloud Computing, a startup that came with its own OpenStack distribution. A year earlier, the vendor acquired Metacloud, which offered technology to enable businesses to run private clouds based on OpenStack. Partnerships also are a key part of Cisco's cloud strategy.
For its part, Pivotal is caught up in Dell's proposed $67 billion bid to buy EMC and its federated companies, which also includes such vendors as RSA, VMware, Virtustream and VCE, now known as EMC Converged Platforms Division. The deal is expected to close by October.
The partnership with Pivotal continues Cisco's relationship with EMC. VCE was founded as a joint venture by Cisco, EMC and VMware to build converged data center solutions known as Vblocks. Cisco in 2014 sold most of its stake in VCE to EMC. The agreement between Cisco and Pivotal will give businesses a broad array of options when planning their cloud strategies, according to James Watters, senior vice president of products at Pivotal.
"As enterprises modernize for the cloud era, they can rest assured that Cisco Metapod provides a custom, managed solution that addresses the complex and unique constraints specific to their requirements," Watters said in a statement. "And with Pivotal Cloud Foundry, Metapod customers gain a comprehensive, modern, enterprise-grade cloud-native platform that delivers the flexibility, speed and scale needed to quickly build and deploy next-generation applications."