Cisco's Cloud Strategy

By Chris Talbot  |  Print this article Print

Cisco introduced new cloud designations for partners during its Cisco Partner Summit in New Orleans, saying that it is looking to IT solution providers to build private clouds and sell services to end customers.

Cisco executives see the company’s role as being the provider of the technology used to build private clouds and enable the development of cloud services rather than a broad-based cloud provider. Peres noted that several of Cisco’s competitors are taking the opposite approach.

Although Cisco does offer a few hosted applications, most notably WebEx and IronPort, the company’s overall strategy is to enable partners to build clouds and cloud services and applications rather than build them itself, said Susheel Chitre, director of cloud and OEM business development for worldwide channels at Cisco Systems.

"If you look at the services we have, WebEx or IronPort, I think those are the services that we had and acquired, and I think they’ll continue. Our intent is not to be a broad-based cloud provider. There are specific applications that might make sense as a complementary market that we’re entering," Chitre said.

Cisco’s primary goal with its cloud strategy is to enable rather than compete with partners, as well as to be as partner-friendly as possible in the emerging and rapidly growing cloud computing market, Chitre said.

Additionally, Cisco is also enabling partner-to-partner collaboration. For instance, a Cloud Builder partner may construct a cloud infrastructure for a Cloud Provider. The cloud services that the Cloud Provider partner develops may then in turn be sold by a Cloud Services Reseller partner.

It’s unlikely a single partner would have all the capabilities necessary to be everything to everyone, and that’s where partner-to-partner collaborations will come in.

"The way we designed the program was structured around what roles can partners play in the marketplace and how can we uniquely enable partners who choose to play any one of those roles," Chitre said.

Through its programs, Cisco has put support mechanisms in place to make it easier for partners to build a cloud practice, no matter which role they choose. Financing is available to help partners get up and running without a significant up-front investment. The partner role designations are granted based on existing certifications and capabilities, so partners will be able to get started quickly. In fact, Chitre said several partners came up to him at Partner Summit and asked if they could get started immediately.

A common belief in the industry is that cloud for businesses will move towards a hybrid cloud environment that connects private clouds to on-premise and public cloud infrastructure and services. Cisco’s strategy follows a similar line of thinking, with the expectation that most enterprise customers will move towards a hybrid cloud infrastructure. And Cisco plans to be there to support its partners in building cloud practices instead of becoming a provider itself.