Cisco launches Intercloud fabric, boosts cloud financing

Cisco adds another $1 billion to the pot as it launches its Intercloud Fabric and announces new partners, including distributors, for its cloud strategy.

Edison Peres, senior vice president of cloud and managed services at Cisco

Edison Peres, senior vice president of cloud and managed services at Cisco

Cisco has marked the launch of its Intercloud Fabric product with the introduction of a new group of Intercloud partners, and an additional $1 billion in financing available to partners and customers looking to build infrastructure based on Cisco’s cloud of clouds vision.

With the public launch of the company’s Intercloud Fabric product, it has made available the “secret sauce” in its strategy, which centres on making it as easy to move an application from one cloud to another – be it private-to-private, private-to-public, or public-to-private – as it is today to move data or information on a LAN. Of course, such ease was not always the case on the local area network. Edison Peres, senior vice president of cloud and managed services at Cisco, points out that before the network consolidated everything on IP, a bunch of incompatible protocols meant vendor lock in and a lack of flexibility.

Cisco contends those same challenges are the long-term limiting reagents of the public cloud market, and that the response needs to be the same as it was on the LAN problem – there needs to be a standardized way to move workloads to and between clouds, as customer needs demand.

“We believe the world is going to be hybrid,” Peres said. “And to make that work, you need to be able to move workload to any cloud and move it back and forth at will.”

The launch of Intercloud Fabric, available in Enterprise and Service Provider editions, will provide a major boost to the cloud market in Canada because it allows the flexibility to run different workloads of different sensitivity in different locations, said David De Abreu, channel chief of Cisco Canada. And the partner-centric IaaS and PaaS plays at Cisco mean local partners will be able to easily ramp up in-country clouds for their customers and to reach a broader Canadian business audience.

Data sovereignty has long been an issue in the move to the cloud here in Canada, and De Abreu posits that’s likely to remain the case, particularly as government gets more involved in forcing the issue through legislation in the wake of high-profile hacks and other attacks that have compromised customer data.

The Intercloud strategy, rolled out in March at Cisco’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Las Vegas, has been picked up by Canadian partners, De Abreu said, with notable names including homegrown solution providers Long View Systems, OnX, and CGI signed up, along with global partners like Dimension Data with Canadian presence.

“We’re seeing momentum growing and we’re expecting a wave of participation,” De Abreu said.

And it could be accelerated by the addition of some familiar names from the distribution realm. The company has introduced Ingram Micro, Tech Data, and Westcon’s Comstor as its first three Intercloud distributors, and Peres said their ability to bring multiple services from multiple vendors together and package it into a single bill will prove valuable in making Intercloud-powered services available to a wider swath of the channel.

“We see them taking Cisco assets, and Cisco-powered assets, and bundling them together,” Peres said. “That will be very important in Internet of Everything applications as everything becomes verticalized.”

Peres said Cisco has been actively courting solution providers to act as resellers of Intercloud products and services both from Cisco and from its Intercloud partners, but for partners to be successful, they have to really build out their own professional services around the whole hybrid IT concept.

“The channel is an area we need to work with not only on reselling, but also moving their business model to one that works in a hybrid environment,” Peres said. “We’re still in 101 territory with the channel at large. But it’s time to accelerate to the next level.”

The rewards are there, because while hybrid IT has great promise, it also brings with it considerable rewards. It all comes back to the old channel truism: “Where there’s mystery, there’s margin.”

There are some signs of movement in that regard. Peres reports a 450 per cent increase in VIP benefits offered partners for selling cloud services. Cisco offers rebates through VIP for both selling Cisco’s own cloud offerings and those run on Cisco Powered clouds. The networking giant is also changing its channel programs to lead partners in what it feels is the right direction. Going forward, Gold partners and above will have to show that they are “actively selling cloud services” to qualify for the top levels of Cisco’s partner program.

In its March announcement, Cisco announced an investment of $1 billion into building out the Intercloud with partners, and this week, it doubled that number, throwing in an additional $1 billion through Cisco Capital to support cloud builders, both customers and partners.

Partners will be able to access that additional funding directly to either build out their own Cisco-powered cloud infrastructure, or through their customers to support those customers’ cloud building, Peres said.