Despite the networking giant's cachet in the data center, Cisco's upcoming InterCloud hasn't impressed IT pros who wonder what the company will offer beyond what's available this late in the game.
Cisco said its service, into which it will pour $1 billion over the next two years, will create a global interconnection among many data center nodes, enabling the Internet of Things and the massive data processing it requires. Cisco's new cloud services will also be a home for its existing Software as a Service offerings, such as WebEx, which Cisco was quick to point out is just behind Salesforce.com in terms of worldwide use.
The Cisco play, while well-funded and well-followed, is a bit of a long shot at this stage in the market.
SVP, Cloud Technology Partners
Still, while Cisco said it's not getting into Infrastructure as a Service per se -- the InterCloud won't include what officials call "generic" virtual machine services -- it's entering territory already staked out by VMware Inc.'s vCloud Hybrid Service and IBM's SoftLayer with the hybrid cloud connection message that surrounds its InterCloud Fabric software.
Cisco is already a trusted vendor in many IT shops, which gives the company a foothold in the enterprise cloud service provider market, IT pros at last week's Interop Las Vegas conference said.
However, details on Cisco InterCloud aren't clear enough yet, said Randy Grogan, a systems architect for a professional staffing and marketing firm based in the Southwest.
"They're extremely late to the game," said an IT pro working for a hedge fund who requested anonymity. "There's still an opportunity, and they have the Cisco name, but they need to show their value-add."
Cisco's networking prowess could also lend polish to features within its cloud, such as static IP addressing, role-based access control and machine-to-machine communication, according to Grogan, but other IT pros at Interop were completely dismissive of Cisco's attempts to rise above the noise in the enterprise cloud market.
"It's just marketing speak," said an IT pro who works for a government agency. "If you say 'cloud,' people will pay attention."
Cisco InterCloud differentiation: Many data centers, many hypervisors
Other industry watchers at Interop said Cisco doesn't have a strong history of software development, which is crucial to standing up an OpenStack cloud.
This is something Cisco officials strongly objected to, pointing out the company's experiences with WebEx, as well as Meraki, for network operations.
"People are extrapolating our capabilities and judging based on a specific part of our portfolio," said Fabio Gori, director of cloud marketing for Cisco, referring to the company's well-established hardware business. Cisco InterCloud, he said, will not require Cisco's Unified Computing System servers or Nexus switching equipment as a substrate.
The InterCloud also won't restrict customers to a "handful of data centers worldwide or a single hypervisor," Gori said, in a thinly veiled shot at VMware's vCHS.
Still, experts remain skeptical as well.
"The Cisco play, while well-funded and well-followed, is a bit of a long shot at this stage in the market," said David Linthicum, senior vice president for Cloud Technology Partners, a cloud consulting firm based in Boston. "Had Cisco done this back in 2008, perhaps they [would] be able to give the existing players a run for their money. However, there is nothing new and innovative here."
As always, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating -- and Cisco InterCloud isn't ready for public consumption yet. More details and roadmap information will be announced at Cisco's Live event in May.
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