Thirty Companies Buy Into Cisco’s ACI-Dependent Cloud of Clouds

Intercloud partner ecosystem grows, and so does the potential market for Cisco’s answer to open SDN tech

Yevgeniy Sverdlik

September 29, 2014

3 Min Read
Thirty Companies Buy Into Cisco’s ACI-Dependent Cloud of Clouds
Cisco Nexus 9336PQ switch. Nexus 9000 series switches are part of the ACI infrastructure (Photo: Cisco)

Cisco has secured a lot of new partners in its $1 billion initiative to build a Cisco cloud of clouds, a global network of data centers operated by a mass of service providers offering nearly every cloud service imaginable.

The company said on Monday that 30 new partners (scroll down for the full list) have signed on since it first announced the Intercloud initiative in March. They include data center and cloud providers, as well as “cloud aggregators,” resellers and software vendors.

The 25 cloud providers on the list have also bought into Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), which is Cisco’s answer to competing Software Defined Network technologies, including the OpenFlow standard. The Intercloud will be based on OpenStack and automated using ACI technology.

Hooking the ecosystem on ACI

Cisco has taken a very different approach to tackling the cloud services market than other incumbent IT vendors have. HP, for example, has been building its own cloud services business, acting itself as the provider. Dell’s strategy has been to act as a reseller of other providers’ cloud services and do cloud consulting. IBM bought SoftLayer and made that its cloud services business.

Instead of becoming just another service provider, the networking giant decided to build out a global Cisco cloud platform based on OpenStack and, to a large extent on its own proprietary technology (ACI). While it will also be providing a lot of cloud services itself, a big part of the strategy is selling the technology that enables Intercloud into the massive ecosystem of partners the company is hoping to build.

Cisco will even finance partners’ purchases of its gear needed to participate in Intercloud. Cisco Capital has set aside $1 billion to loan to companies that want to buy and implement ACI.

Commitment from 30 new companies potentially expands the reach of the Intercloud network to about 250 data centers in 50 countries, according to Cisco. ACI is part of the Intecloud architecture, so that is 250 potential data centers that will need it.

Equinix joins the party

One of Cisco’s new Intercloud partners is Equinix. Its role in the partnership is to stand up a hosted private cloud solution together with Cisco that will be offered in its data centers through the Equinix Cloud Exchange.

The colocation provider also bought some new Cisco networking products, including Nexus 9000 switches and Cisco APIC (Application Policy Infrastructure Controller), both components of the ACI infrastructure, for its cloud exchange.

Lots of native Cisco cloud services promised

Cisco will provide its own suite of cloud services on the network, and so will all the providers connected to it.

The list of services Cisco said it would provide is long. About 15 services long, it includes everything from Platform- and Infrastructure-as-a-Service to collaboration, virtual desktop and energy management.

Intercloud Fabric now on sale

As part of Monday’s announcement, Cisco kicked off general availability of its Intercloud Fabric solutions.

There are two flavors of the solutions that start shipping this week: for businesses’ internal use and for service providers.

The business one includes the Fabric Director, an IT admin portal for lifecycle management of physical, virtual and cloud workloads, and the Fabric Secure Extender, which connects multiple clouds.

The provider solution is a virtual appliance that enables providers to offer hybrid cloud services without adding their own APIs.

Cisco has sold the provider fabric to BT, the large London-based telco, which will use it to build hybrid cloud services which will connect to Cisco’s cloud and its other provider partners.

List of Cisco’s new Intercloud partners:

Adapt, ANS Group, BT, CGI Group, Cirrity, CTI, Data#3, Deutsche Telekom, Ethan Group, Infront Systems, Lightedge Solutions, Logicalis, Long View Systems, Netelligent, OneNeck IT Solutions, OnX Enterprise Solutions, Oi, Optus, Peak 10, PT Portugal, Proxios, Quest Technology Management, Groupe Steria, Virtustream, Dimension Data, Forsythe Technology, Presidio, World Wide Technology, Comstor, Ingram Micro, Tech Data

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