is Cisco InterCloud late to the party?

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Cisco just announced their move to the Cloud as a public/hybrid player. A few short details:

  • name: InterCloud
  • platform of choice: OpenStack
  • model: hybrid, partner driven
  • landing page: LINK

Cisco Cloud Computing

There is plenty of time ahead

In the Public/Hybid cloud market we have some early leaders like Amazon and Rackspace, we have the adopters like HP / IBM and not to forget VMware but all with different go-to-market strategies. I remember HP announcing their first type of public cloud at HP Discover 2011! Back in those days it was kind of the same model Cisco is announcing today. Only that it was built on HP CloudSystem Matrix in partnership with Savvis and Alcatel-Lucent. Today this matrix doesn’t exist anymore and is completely replaced by an OpenStack vision.

In a buyers market there is always room for more options/players.

This is the exact same reason there is still room for players in the flash-accelerated storage market. We haven’t yet reached to the point where market share needs to be divided. New technologies arrive every day and we are far from minor innovation cycles like we have in spinning disks today. Public/Hybrid Cloud today is in the 2007 era of Virtualization so please do keep on innovating and bringing new models to the table.

Data Sovereignty & Partnership

One of the drivers in the Press Releases and articles all over the place is Data Sovereignty or in other words “the NSA is listening” problem. There are a lot of companies that have a policy that their data cannot leave the country. Although I know and understand where this comes from and I do believe that this can make some wins in short/mid-term sales, I truly don’t see this as a big differentiator in the long run.

the distribution/reseller channel is your cheapest sales force!

This however is a bigger differentiator. I am a big believer of channel. I truly believe that channel is the main reason Cisco, HP, DELL, … have become successful. And here is the key to that success again. If Cisco manages to tap into their existing sales structure with this solution, they have a huge market potential that will never be reached by a RackSpace for example. It’s the trusted advisor channel and it still sells.

This is also the reason I believe more in this Cisco’s message of today than I believe in VMware’s hybrid cloud. VMware should stay away from wanting to own the services. VMware should stick their focus to making great datacenter products and having other people use (and sell) it.

To OpenStack or not to OpenStack

The jury is still undecided on this one and I will most probably have to review my opinion a few times. OpenStack today is a project, nothing more nothing less. It kind of has the same model as Linux where there is a base of truth (the Kernel) and then there are hundreds of solutions on top.

you cannot buy an OpenStack, you can buy a distro of OpenStack.

And this is the ticker to me. I just don’t see all these vendors that are working on the OpenStack core to all deliver and maintain their own distros in the future. It works for Linux but even there the only real winners are RedHat and SUSE in the datacenter (one could argue for Ubuntu on desktop). I do see the partnership with RedHat as an important part of the story. Where VMware has chosen to expand their product portfolio into storage and networking it will lose a few partners in focus. This could be one of those focus areas where Cisco says; “Thanks but no thanks, RedHat is a better partner for this project”.

My $0.02

There is a huge effort in making sure the OpenStack program works. But a consolidation of that work needs to happen in order to make this a successful move in the long run. I see programs merging and players leaving from the discussion table. If not this will be doomed to fade away in history. I do see a key role here for RedHat to take that lead.

Footnote: I am by far not a networking dude but I do follow Cisco slightly closer than I used to on their DataCenter and overall company strategy. This has not been unnoticed by their marketing teams and I have been rewarded with the Cisco Champion 2014 title. Thank you for that!

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