UPDATED 15:22 EST / JANUARY 28 2014

For Cisco, the road to the hybrid cloud runs through the (software-defined) network

As cloud services continue to gnaw away at traditional IT infrastructure, incumbent vendors are finding themselves with no option but to embrace the time-honored philosophy of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” IBM and HP are standardizing on OpenStack in a bid to conquer the private cloud, while more strategically-minded firms like Cisco are going down the hybrid computing route.

The networking giant is rolling out InterCloud, a new software solution that enables organizations to freely move workloads between providers as well as on- and off-premise deployments. The offering was unveiled today at the company’s Live conference in Milan, a week after open source giant Red Hat updated its server virtualization platform to provide hybrid cloud interoperability for the enterprise.

A software-defined world


Cisco is also offering more functionality with its Application Policy infrastructure Controller, a unified management platform that aims help organizations cost-effectively tame the rapid growth in connected devices. Originally announced in November 2013 and launched today, the product delivers on the company’s Application Centric Infrastructure vision.

“As Cisco got ready to roll out its software-defined networking (SDN) strategy, we heard two things from customers: they didn’t want to refresh existing infrastructure, and they were concerned about not having the developers on staff to take advantage of SDN and programmability,” explains Jeff Reed, Vice President and General Manager of SDN and Manageability, Enterprise Networking Group at Cisco. “But customers saw real value in extending SDN from the data center to campus and branch environments to simplify and automate the overall IT network management process.

“So we made investments to bring along our install base, bringing ACI principles to the campus and branch. These principles are agility (making the network more responsive), security (helping the network do a better job of identifying security issues) and reducing total cost of ownership. The new controller also includes APIs and built-in Javascript applications with graphical user interfaces that give lean IT staffs a chance to hit the ground running in deployment scenarios including security automation, QoS (Quality of Service) provisioning and path optimization.”

Connecting the world for IoT


The updated approach to hybrid cloud solutions is also part of Cisco’s larger goals of connecting more devices in the enterprise and beyond, riding the wave driving the Internet of Things movement. An enterprise’s ability to deliver the applications necessary to connect end users within the organization is a growing challenge, and Cisco hopes to ease this transition into the future with streamlined networking solutions.

The Internet of Things is changing the ways businesses are rolling out solutions to the market based on intelligence coming from the network and based on new ways for connecting people, processes, data and things,” says Inbar Lasser-Raab, Vice President of Product Management, Enterprise Networking Group at Cisco. “With all this new information becoming available, the big data analysis will make the opportunities bigger, but also the complexity larger and IT is challenged to find new ways to drive simplification into IT organizations and networks to make these opportunities possible.”

Cisco is trying to unlock the value of information mobility as part of an effort to catch on software-defined networking, an accelerating trend that has also caught the attention of competitors such as Dell. The newly private hardware just entered a reseller agreement with Cumulus for its Linux-based network operating system, which decouples transport capacity from the underlying hardware to drive operational efficiencies.

Hybrid cloud build outs are becoming necessary options for all aspects of the industry, as Rackspace’s Sean Wedige points out. Giving enterprises choice in their cloud architecture improves application access, usability and management, maintaining levels of security required for the industry.

“The idea that we can have federated clouds and you have workload portability, so I’ll choose a medical cloud for one application or choose a high-touch provider like Rackspace for other applications, that vision is very early but that’s where we see this going,” Wedige, the CTO of Rackspace’s enterprise group, commented in an interview on theCUBE back at VMware 2013 . “We see you being able to pick and choose your cloud, if it’s pricing you’re making your decision on, [or] if it’s a service component.”

See Wedige’s entire commentary on cloud interoperability and application management below.

contributors: Maria Deutscher

photo credit: Giovanni ‘jjjohn’ Orlando via photopin cc

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