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Cisco Strengthens, Rebrands Cloud Strategy

December 29, 2011

Cisco has announced Cisco CloudVerse, its new branding for its cloud framework for building, managing and connecting public, private and hybrid clouds. It is centered around three elements: Unified Data Center, Cloud Intelligent Network, and Cloud Applications and Services.

"Much of the strategy is not new, but new products were announced within each of the three elements, and the strategy itself, as well as being rebranded, is more explicit," said Pat Adamiak, Senior Director Cloud Marketing at Cisco. 

"The strategy is an evolution of our existing strategy, but is better articulated," Adamiak said. "The strategy has been communicated in packets, but has never been presented in this kind of more advanced way."

Cisco's cloud partnering strategy has also not changed with this announcement. While some new channel initiatives were announced, the channel strategy remains consistent with the partnering strategy for the cloud Cisco announced earlier this year at its partner conference, and has proceeded to roll out. 

"Cisco sees the cloud as a World of Many Clouds," Adamiak said. "Some think there will be a couple large scale providers and that's it, but we are already seeing the proliferation of other clouds driven by legal requirements and compliance requirements, and smaller clouds, specific to industries. Cisco's goal is to integrate all this because the network is core to this."

Adamiak emphasized that Cisco's cloud strategy is to enable applications and services by uniquely combining unified data centers and the cloud intelligent network. "We aren't a cloud provider -- we enable them," he said. 

"We don't compete with them by directly offering cloud services." 

The Unified Data Center component of the strategy has three key elements: Unified Computing, Unified Fabric and a new one, Unified Management. Unified Management includes three elements, Cisco UCS Manager, which already exists, and two new ones. Cisco Intelligent Automation for the Cloud, designed to provide automated provisioning and management of data center resources for the delivery of cloud services within and between data centers. It also includes Cisco Network Services Manager, designed to automatically create, deploy and modify physical and virtual networking resources on demand. Both the new offerings are scheduled to become available this month.

"Cisco Unified Management is all about deploying and managing cloud services in an automated fashion," Adamiak said. "This suite is a big step for Cisco, moving beyond hardware and meeting a real need in the software space to help customers move into the cloud." 

The Cloud Intelligent Network component consists of Network Management and two new elements, Cloud to Cloud Connect, and Cloud to Customer Connect. Cloud to Cloud Connect provides dynamic agility for its ASR 9000 and ASR 1000 routers due next year. It will enable dynamic resource identification, allocation and optimization between data centers and clouds.

The third core element, Cloud Applications and Services, enable 'as a service' delivery of both Cisco and third-party cloud applications. Several capabilities are being added to Cisco's Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS). a Private Cloud HCS which empowers enterprises to build their own collaboration cloud using Cisco's validated and tested solution and full management capabilities. "

The major new capability here is the hosted collaboration solution, which was announced nine months ago for the public cloud, and which is now available for the private cloud," Adamiak said. 

Other new capabilities are Mobile HCS, which provides mobile service providers with an easy and cost-effective way to offer collaboration from the cloud, and Customer Collaboration, which makes contact center capabilities more affordable and accessible by adding Cisco Customer Collaboration offerings to HCS. These offerings are available on a limited basis now and targeted for general availability in 2012.

The partner message in all this remains clear since the announcement of the Cloud Partner Program last March, which subsequently went live in June, said Susheel Chitre, Direct of Business Development for Cloud Go To Market, Wordwide Partner Organization. "

Our cloud partner strategy was designed to fit into the broader strategy just announced," Chitre said. "We are not looking to compete with partners." 

There are three tracks in the program -- Cloud Builder, Cloud Provider and Cloud Reseller -- and the first two, which are the foundational tracks which will create partnering opportunities for Cloud Resellers, have seen strong growth.

"We have seen tremendous momentum since June," Chitre said. "In the Cloud Builder Track, 29 partners have completed all requirements, with another 12 targeted to complete them in December." 70 additional partners have been identified by Cisco for this track, which builds cloud services, but does not provide them. 

In the Cloud Provider track, 21 partners are now offering Cisco-powered cloud services, with four services being offered today. Many of these will provide partnering opportunities for the third track, Cloud Services Reseller, and VAR partner introductions to the Cloud partners started. 

"This is a much bigger group that is being systematically engaged now that we have a core group," Chitre said.

New offers from Cisco Capital to stimulate cloud business for cloud providers, and reward them for their investment, were also announced. The Jump Start program provides one year financing with no payment and no interest, and the Scale Pay program is a step payment plan to take partners along as revenues ramp up. 

"The idea is to align expenses with the revenue stream," Chitre said. "There is also an exit strategy if things don't work out, although we hope no one needs it."

Source: eChannelLine 

Mark Cox

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