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How Cisco wants to become the Switzerland of the cloud

Brandon Butler | Feb. 28, 2017
A set of offerings will provide independent management of cloud resources

On the networking front, Cisco has its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) – which run on Nexus devices. Cisco has made many of its network function products available as SaaS products; these include the Cisco Cloud Services Routers, which provides routing, security and network management for public cloud connections; the Cisco Virtual Wide Area Appliance Services (vWAAS) for WAN optimization and the Cisco Adaptive Security Virtual Appliance (ASAv), which includes firewall and VPN capabilities for connecting to the public cloud.

For analytics, Cisco’s Tetration platform provides advanced infrastructure insights. Cisco recently bought AppDynamics for application analytics too. On the security front, Cisco has its Umbrella and CloudLock platforms; in collaboration it has cloud-based Spark and WebEx. Two years ago Cisco bought Cliqr, a company that specializes in multi-cloud management, which today makes up the Cisco Cloud Center Product and is part of the Enterprise Cloud Suite of offerings. This platform can help customers connect to public clouds like those from Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

Combined, all of these products are aimed to work across multiple infrastructure environments, whether they’re on-premises or in the cloud.

Gartner Research Director Mindy Cancila, who tracks the hybrid cloud management market, says that Cisco’s Cloud Center product, which is based off its Cliqr acquisition, is solid technology. There are many other vendors competing in the market of multi-cloud management though, including RightScale and IBM’s Gravitant. To differentiate, she says Cisco will have to continue to advance the Cloud Center capabilities to further integrate with the popular public IaaS cloud platforms from AWS, Azure and Google.

“There are a lot of traditional infrastructure vendors who are recognizing the growth and adoption of cloud and working to find a way into the public cloud story,” she says. “Being the so-called Switzerland, or a neutral cloud provider enables Cisco to have a cloud discussion with many users.”

Vendors shouldn’t be so neutral that it risks losing differentiation and expertise in the platforms it helps manage though, she says. “Neutrality isn’t necessarily the benefit many buyers are looking for,” Cancila says. “It’s all about integration.” Cisco’s success in this strategy, she believes, will come down to how they’re able to integrate meaningful cloud management operations into its existing products.


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