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Cisco's cloud computing message has been slowly brewing. While other major players like HP, IBM and many more have put their stakes in the ground and screamed cloud from the mountaintop, Cisco has sit back and let it all sink in.
"Cisco does have a cloud strategy. I think we just haven't been out there articulating it," Cisco Cloud CTO Lew Tucker said in an interview with CRN.
Tucker said the industry's message around cloud computing last year was defining what the cloud was, but the main cloud computing message now and into 2011 is "what are we actually going to do to make it happen?"
While on the surface it may appear that Cisco has been a laggard when it comes to attacking the cloud computing market, the addition of Tucker as Cisco's Cloud CTO is designed to change that. Tucker is taking the virtualization groundwork Cisco laid with its Unified Computing System (UCS), integrated compute, storage and networking play, and taking it into the cloud.
Tucker calls Cisco's cloud strategy "all-encompassing," and though it's still taking shape, he's quick to point out what that strategy is not. "We're not going to offer our own cloud...We instead are really focusing on providing the infrastructure components and complete solutions for people who are building clouds, deploying clouds or using clouds."
Cisco's decision to not offer its own cloud stems from not wanting to compete with its service provider customers and to let enterprises use Cisco gear to build and run their own clouds.
Cisco's cloud strategy instead is a three-pronged attack; targeting the partners and providers that are building clouds, deploying clouds and using clouds. One leg provides the fundamental building blocks for the cloud, the primary infrastructure where Cisco already plays; the second is partnering with software players like VMWare and EMC to offer integrated systems and solutions like UCS and to provide those systems to telcos and service providers looking to deploy clouds and cloud services; and third, Cisco wants to drive the acceleration of the cloud by providing secure access to the cloud whether that be through security, mobility, Telepresence and solutions like the Cisco Cius business tablet.
And while the UCS launch in 2009 got Cisco's foot in the virtualization door, Tucker said Cisco is now starting to develop cloud-specific product sets that will put Cisco's infrastructure at the center of the cloud computing stage. Those virtualization and cloud plays, Tucker said, will rely on Cisco's traditional bread and butter: The network.
"Networking really is the top platform for cloud computing as we go forward," he said. "Cisco's cloud strategy, and we summarize it very directly, is we offer the primary essential building blocks and integrative systems for people who want to build clouds. That's our core networking gear and our UCS system."