Cisco Systems is looking to offer the technology that connects the growing range of cloud platforms, enabling workloads to more easily migrate between public and private cloud environments.
The Cisco InterCloud, which is part of the company’s larger Cisco ONE (Open Network Environment) strategy, is software that will enable businesses to move workloads and their associated network and security policies between private and public clouds, including Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Windows Azure.
InterCloud was one of several announcements Cisco officials made Jan. 28 at their Cisco Live conference in Milan, Italy. Also at the show, the company unveiled an enhanced controller module that extends Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) initiative—which was introduced in November 2013—beyond the data center and into WAN and access networks and expands software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities through an organization’s networks, according to officials.
Both the cloud and SDN efforts play into Cisco’s strategy around the burgeoning Internet of everything (IoE), the company’s vision of increasingly intelligent and connected systems that demand greater automation, openness and connectivity in their infrastructures. Cisco views the IoE as the largest transition in the tech industry since the Internet, and an opportunity that could be worth $19 trillion to public and private organizations by 2020, according to Jeff Reed, vice president of SDN and manageability in Cisco’s Enterprise Networking Group.
“It’s a huge effort in the industry and in Cisco,” Reed told eWEEK.
The InterCloud software is designed to help organizations with hybrid cloud environments move their data and applications easily between private and public clouds without losing their network and security policies. There are some hybrid cloud solutions already on the market, but they don’t enable the wide range of connections that InterCloud offers, according to Fabio Gori, senior director of cloud marketing at Cisco.
InterCloud “allows companies to manage workloads in both directions [between private and public clouds],” Gori told eWEEK. “This gives a tremendous amount of confidence to cloud customers.”
A range of cloud providers will adopt the InterCloud technology, including BT, CSC/ServiceMesh, CenturyLink Technology Solutions and Virtustream. The software also will integrate with cloud management solutions, including Cisco’s Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC), CSC/ServiceMesh’s Agility Platform and Red Hat CloudForms. Other vendors supporting InterCloud include EMC, Citrix Systems, Microsoft, NetApp, Rackspace and VCE.
Cisco also made a number of other cloud-related announcements, including a partnership with Red Hat to extend the OpenStack cloud orchestration solution and develop infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings that will enable customers to manage both legacy and Web-scale cloud environments. The vendor also is growing the portfolio of its Cisco Services for Cloud Strategy, Management and Operations, and is rolling out its IAC 4.0, with an enhanced service catalog and new integration between IAC and Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) Director to help quickly provision both virtual and physical infrastructures for cloud environments.
Cisco Wants to Be Foundation for Cloud Environments
Regarding the Enterprise Module of the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), Cisco officials said it will give organizations greater visibility into their networks and automate the configuration and extend the reach of APIC to WAN and access networks. The automation will speed up the networking configuration tasks, and so what took months to do manually will take hours now, according to Cisco’s Reed.
Cisco’s APIC supports a range of APIs, from OpenFlow to Cisco’s onePK to command line interface (CLI), while also supporting newer SDN-ready networking systems and older Cisco network equipment, which is key for the large installed base of Cisco customers, Reed said.
Cisco executives unveiled the ACI strategy and APCI technology in November, bringing in-house technology developed by its “spin-in” company Insieme. ACI was seen as an answer to SDN, which many industry observers have said represents a threat to Cisco’s traditional—and money-making—networking business. Competitors have argued that ACI is Cisco’s way of keeping customers tied to the vendor’s technology at a time when SDN and network-function virtualization promise to create more open networks.
Reed said that ACI—which leverages both Cisco’s hardware strengths and software capabilities—enables SDN, creating a much more automated networking environment and enabling organizations to view their networks as a single entity. He also pointed to the increasingly open nature of what Cisco offers under the ACI umbrella. For example, the Enterprise Module can connect to the OpenDaylight open-source SDN platform, and Cisco is offering a ONE developer kit that will enable developers to create software to connect the Cisco ONE platform to other data center resources.
Cisco also is announcing more partners to the Cisco ONE program, including Citrix, Radware and ActionPacket.
The APIC APIs are important for Cisco customers as they grow their ACI infrastructures, Reed said. Right now many of them aren’t doing a lot of programming for the environments right now, so the Cisco APIs give them some applications they can build off of, he said.
“It’s immediately helpful for a lot of customers I talk to,” Reed said, noting that as companies get more experience and comfort with ACI and SDN, they will begin developing their own applications.
The InterCloud technology will be available in the second quarter. The APIC Enterprise Module will be available in the first half of the year.