The sun shone outside the Cisco Live conference on Tuesday even as the clouds gathered within, and that was exactly the kind of weather Cisco was hoping for.
Hosting and cloud provider Dimension Data signed on to use Cisco's Intercloud platform, Cisco executive Rob Lloyd announced in a keynote address that emphasized hybrid clouds and making IT infrastructure easier to set up and manage.
Cisco will sell cloud services using Dimension Data's Managed Cloud Platform, including IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) and SaaS (software-as-a-service) offerings of Microsoft SQL Server and SharePoint, said Lloyd, who is Cisco's president of development and sales. The services are available now through 10 Dimension data centers worldwide, which will expand to 13 by the end of September, according to Cisco.
The services coming through Dimension Data will be aimed at medium-sized enterprises and at smaller service providers that want to resell cloud services, especially in the developing world, Lloyd said.
Intercloud is Cisco's architecture for linking private and public infrastructure around the world into a single cloud. It will let enterprises and service providers host workloads anywhere and move them around based on regional needs and compliance requirements. Cisco is using Intercloud to offer its own services, backing away from earlier pledges not to compete with its service-provider customers, but is still counting on partners to bring their infrastructure to the party.
Australian carrier Telstra, a longtime Cisco customer, was the company's first announced Intercloud partner. Dimension Data, a Cisco partner for 23 years, and parent NTT have now joined in, Lloyd told Cisco Live attendees.
Lloyd compared the concept to international roaming on cellular networks.
"We're going to embrace all cloud partners ... in the countries where we do business around the world, and in partnership with our cloud partners," Lloyd said.
Hybrid clouds are the future because they combine the easy expansion possible on a public cloud and the security and control of private infrastructure, he said. Cisco's platform for building those clouds, and the foundation of Intercloud, is ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure).
This platform, Cisco's entry into the SDN (software-defined networking) sweepstakes, is designed to simplify network provisioning, management and teardown, and make infrastructure more secure. It works in conjunction with Cisco-designed silicon on the recently introduced Nexus 9000 switch, but its benefits have also been extended to much of the older Cisco gear, including the Catalyst 6000 series and Integrated Services Routers, the company says.
Cisco has a lot riding on ACI, which was announced less than a year ago, and it may take a while to get the mass of its customers on board. Two IT engineers attending Cisco Live, both from large U.S. retailers, said they were just learning about ACI for the first time. The technologies they're now looking to adopt -- converged network-computing-storage platforms for one, and VoIP for the other -- are far from the cutting edge of Cisco's agenda. Cisco says it has 1,000 customers in the pipeline to adopt the Nexus 9000 and ACI.