Cisco Centralizes Cloud Strategy With CloudVerse Initiative

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2011-12-06

Cisco Centralizes Cloud Strategy With CloudVerse Initiative

Cisco Systems, in an effort to centralize access to its cloud-system-provisioning business in an escalating battle for telco customers with its competitors, on Dec. 6 revealed a new initiative it calls CloudVerse that will serve as the first door on which potential cloud-system buyers can knock.

The company describes CloudVerse, a term that refers to the universe of cloud options, as a "framework that combines the foundational elements-unified data center, cloud intelligent network and cloud applications-needed to enable organizations to build, manage and connect public, private and hybrid clouds."

Others might call it marketing spin or vaporware, since there were no new products or services introduced. However, the fact is that Cisco does have a lot of disparate products and services-not to mention a large number of third-party partners-that were unconnected in the minds of potential enterprise customers who might be shopping around for private or hybrid cloud-computing systems.

IBM and Hewlett-Packard confronted this same issue a few years ago, and both have since initiated separate cloud departments. Like Oracle (databases and enterprise software), EMC (storage and security) and Dell (PCs), Cisco is becoming a full-blown IT systems company and is coming at cloud computing from its own corner of the world. Networking certainly is an appropriate corner to own.

Integrating Many Products, Services Into One Offering

"CloudVerse is about integrating all of the cloud-related technologies that Cisco offers," Cisco Cloud CTO Lew Tucker (pictured) told eWEEK. "Over the last quarter, we've really focused in on a small set of priorities as a company, such as leadership in core routing/switching, collaboration, data center virtualization, video and architecture for business transformation.

"Those are the overall goals of the company going forward, and they all touch cloud in some way. Today's announcement about CloudVerse is all about data centers, virtualization and clouds."

Specifically-at least at the outset-it's about approaching telecommunications companies that want to get into the cloud-services business. They are the so-called low-hanging fruit of the market right now.

"Every telco on the planet is working to get a public cloud offering out there, and with Cisco's infrastructure and our cloud management solution, we can enable them to get those services to market more quickly," Scott Fulton, vice-president and general manager of BMC Service Operations and Cloud Management, told eWEEK.

CloudVerse will use Cisco's Unified Data Center, which consists of Cisco networking and application servers, EMC storage, VMware virtualization and BMC management software as a base platform. As its contribution to CloudVerse, BMC is working with Cisco to provide integration into the branded Cisco Network Service Manager 5.0-a new application programming interface (API).

Later, as part of its deal with Cisco, BMC will further integrate its cloud management software package into Cisco's Network Services Manager to be launched in mid-2012, Fulton said.

CloudVerse's fabric-type layout is designed to automate the "as-a-service" model across all physical and virtual environments and to scale for business demands by flexibly allocating IT resources within and between data centers using unified computing and unified fabric, Tucker said.

This is right up the alleys of telcos, most of whom have extra space and bandwidth they weren't using that they want to put to work on cloud services-the upside of which is huge. Several analytics firms have projected this market to be worth dozens of billions of dollars in the next few years.

Ciscos Message Is That It Wants to Be Your Cloud Infrastructure Provider


What's Included in CloudVerse

Under the CloudVerse banner, Cisco is incorporating unified management capabilities that include Cisco Intelligent Automation for the Cloud, which provides automated provisioning and management of resources for the delivery of IT services within and between data centers, and the previously mentioned Cisco Network Services Manager, which automatically creates, deploys and modifies physical and virtual networking resources on demand.

On the networking side, Tucker said that Cisco's Cloud Intelligent Network provides a consistent and secure user experience wherever the user is located and across the multiple clouds involved in delivering a service. These are all available now.

There will be additional CloudVerse products and services to come in 2012, Tucker said. Sometime next year, Cisco will add a new feature called Cloud-to-Cloud Connect capabilities, which includes Cisco's Network Positioning System on the ASR 1000 and 9000 Series Aggregation Services Routers (ASR). This will enable dynamic resource identification, allocation and optimization between data centers and clouds, Tucker said. 

Also in 2012, CloudVerse systems will enable "as a service" delivery of both Cisco and third-party cloud applications, Tucker said.  New capabilities to be added to Cisco's Hosted Collaboration Solution next year include the following:

  • Private Cloud HCS: This enables enterprises to build their own collaboration cloud using Cisco's validated and tested designs and full management capabilities.
  • Mobile HCS: Mobile service providers will be able to offer collaboration software from the cloud and extend services from fixed devices to mobile phones. For example, providers can virtually connect thousands of mobile users at a company with single-number reach, or enable customers to transition a call from a desk phone to a mobile phone while the call is in progress.
  • Customer Collaboration: Cisco is making contact center capabilities more affordable and accessible by adding Cisco Customer Collaboration offerings to HCS.

Clearing the Message

When Tucker joined Cisco a year ago after running Sun Microsystems' cloud division for several years, he realized that his new company hadn't articulated its cloud message quite clearly enough.

"One of the first things I'd like to face directly is that is seems to be that Cisco needs to be crisper in its message out to the world about what we're doing in cloud computing," Tucker said in a December 2010 interview with eWEEK, shortly after he joined Cisco.

And that message would be this: Cisco wants to be your cloud infrastructure provider, and it will use its longtime expertise in the network, its many partnerships and a newfound sense of purpose as a baseline to do it.

Cisco now seems to be deploying that clearer message.

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