Cisco, Microsoft to Enable Providers to Offer Cloud Services
Cisco UCS gear installed in a data center (Photo: Cisco)

Cisco, Microsoft to Enable Providers to Offer Cloud Services

Partnership aimed at helping telecoms and service providers offer cloud services beyond raw IaaS.

Microsoft and Cisco have teamed up to create a new product package that enables telecoms and other service providers to offer Azure-like cloud services.

While Microsoft will bring its cloud infrastructure product—Windows Azure Pack—to the table, Cisco will contribute its networking devices and servers. Together, they will form one of the most comprehensive cloud partnerships around.

“For cloud infrastructure there is very little overlap in terms of product coverage, so there ought to be few boundary issues to get in the way,” Synergy Research Chief Analyst John Dinsdale said via email.

“Microsoft has strong cloud infrastructure service offerings and totally dominates the OS space. Cisco is an across-the-board leader in networking and has the technology smarts, and between them they have a lot of the software pieces in place.”

Although the two companies compete in collaboration and online communication services, they’ve managed to find common ground in the cloud. This is not the first time they have partnered. Microsoft and Cisco also teamed up last year in a bid for enterprise business.

Both companies are now in good position to help service providers enable their customers to evolve to a hybrid cloud. Service providers leveraging the duo aren’t necessarily interested in enabling wholesale moves, but rather providing something more than just an Infrastructure-as-a-Service, or complementary cloud options to more traditional enterprise managed infrastructure. They’re now equipped to help service providers create combined IaaS, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions that deliver more value to their customers.

"We want our service provider partners to move up-market with us and offer higher-end cloud services,” Nick Earle, senior vice president for Cisco’s Cloud and Managed Services, said in a press release. “By partnering with Microsoft we're able to deliver a tightly integrated, application centric cloud architecture. This unique new platform will help our partners dramatically accelerate the delivery of new and innovative hybrid cloud services for their customers."

Mutual partner Concerto Cloud Services is one of the first to benefit from the “The Cisco Cloud Architecture built with the Microsoft Cloud platform.” Concerto used the duo to create a hybrid cloud featuring seamless integration between its virtual private cloud and Microsoft Azure, according to a statement by Greg Pierce, vice president of Concerto Cloud Services.

The collaboration will also deliver pre-packaged policy management libraries that allow cloud providers to implement applications more quickly with consistent policy management. In addition, Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 is integrated with the Cisco Unified Computing System.

It will complement Cisco's OpenStack-based architectures for cloud-native workloads and provide seamless hybrid cloud capability for connecting to Intercloud and Azure. Cisco plans to publish the first reference architecture in April 2015.

Close to 15 new cloud providers announced plans to join Cisco's Intercloud partner ecosystem, bringing the number of providers to more than 60 with a footprint of 350-plus data centers across 50 countries.

The partnership is somewhat akin to the recent Google-VMware partnership. Arguably competitors in some respects, the two joined forces to tackle hybrid cloud needs with Google providing the public cloud resources to VMware-heavy enterprises looking to leverage public cloud. The difference is the extension of the Cisco-Microsoft partnership is aimed toward the channel.

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