Cisco to Invest Another $1 Billion in Intercloud Initiative

The company also said another 30-plus partners are joining the Intercloud effort, which also is getting new products and services.


Cisco Systems officials are seeing growing momentum behind the company's Intercloud initiative—including with more than 30 new companies joining in on the effort—and the networking giant is planning to invest another $1 billion to accelerate that growth.

At the same time, Cisco is rolling out new products and services for the Intercloud, which company executives envision as a series of interconnected private, public and hybrid cloud environments that leverages Cisco solutions—including its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), which encompasses such trends as software-defined networking—and OpenStack as foundational technologies.

"We're seeing a huge amount of interest among customers and partners," Mike Riegel, vice president of marketing for the Cisco Cloud unit, told eWEEK.

The Intercloud is being designed to enable businesses to more easily move their workloads and applications from one cloud to another, between public, private and hybrid environments. At the same time, it also can be used by vendors as a service delivery vehicle. For many businesses, moving their applications or workloads from one cloud to another can be difficult, if not impossible, Riegel said.

"A lot of cloud providers are their own islands," he said.

Cisco officials introduced the Intercloud idea in January, and began rolling it out later with a two-year, $1 billion investment. The latest $1 billion will be spent by Cisco Capital to financially help customers and partners get the necessary Cisco technologies they need to participate in the Intercloud—particularly ACI—and to help them migrate their infrastructures, according to Riegel.

Partnerships will continue to be crucial to the effort, he said. The IT infrastructure scale needed to accommodate such trends as mobile computing, big data and the burgeoning Internet of things (IoT) makes it impossible for a single vendor to provide everything. The growing interest from vendors to partner with Cisco is an indication that the company is on the right track, Riegel said. With the new partners, the Intercloud is expanding to 250 data centers in 50 countries.

Deutsche Telekom, BT and Equinix are among the new partners. Deutsche Telekom will bring Intercloud nodes to its data centers in Germany and will outfit those facilities with the necessary Cisco technologies, including Nexus 9000 Series switches and Cisco's Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC). BT will use Cisco's new Intercloud Fabric to create hybrid cloud services that can link with Cisco's cloud and other Intercloud partners.

For its part, Equinix will work with Cisco to develop a hosted private cloud offering that leverages Equinix's Cloud Exchange solution. In addition, Cisco will bring Intercloud technologies to 16 markets in the Americas, Europe and Asia in which Equinix has a presence.

Other new partners include 26 cloud providers, such as CGI Group, Ethan Group, LightEdge Solutions and Logicalis, Intercloud builders like Dimension Data and Forsythe Technology, and Intercloud aggregators, including Ingram Micro and Tech Data.

Among the new offerings is Cisco's Intercloud Fabric, which is a key to making the Intercloud work, Riegel said. It's a software package that runs on commodity servers in the cloud and enables workloads to move from one cloud to another—private, public or hybrid—regardless of the cloud provider, such as Amazon Web Services, Google or Microsoft Azure. It also can work with any hypervisor, from VMware's vSphere and Microsoft's Hyper-V to KVM and Xen. The offering is available now.

Cisco is building Intercloud Fabric capabilities into its Unified Computing Systems (UCS) converged infrastructure offerings, as its NetApp in its FlexPods and VCE in its Vblock systems.

"InterCloud Fabric becomes the on-ramp," Nick Earle, senior vice president of cloud and managed services at Cisco, said during a Web conference Sept. 29, according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha. "Vblock and FlexPod are bundling Intercloud Fabric with their offerings. From our service provider partners perspective, what we'll bring to them is the secure delivery of [virtual machines] into the Intercloud ecosystem."

Also available are Cisco's Hybrid Cloud bundles, which are packages of Cisco technologies—such as the Intercloud Fabric and ACI—and services designed to help end users create hybrid cloud environments. One of the bundles enables businesses that already have a private cloud to extend it to Cisco's infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering, while another will help customers that don't yet have a private cloud to get one.

In addition, cloud providers can now leverage Cisco's Evolved Services Platform (ESP) to deliver new virtualized and automated managed services, called Security and Cloud VPN. The ESP platform of virtualization capabilities and software enables the creation, automation and provisioning of services in real time across data center resources.