Cisco Tuesday aimed to stake out higher ground in the battle for cloud supremacy with the launch of next-generation InterCloud infrastructure software that offers increased functionality for moving workloads between public clouds as diverse as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and VMware's own public cloud offering, according to Cisco.
Cisco also introduced Tuesday an updated controller module it says will extend the value of Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) -- the networking giant's flagship software-defined networking (SDN) offering -- beyond the data center and into WAN and access networks.
Both solutions were unveiled Tuesday at the Cisco Live event in Milan, Italy, running Jan. 27-31.
Cisco InterCloud, the first of the two new products, is infrastructure software designed for hybrid cloud environments that allows organizations to combine and move workloads, such as data or applications, across different public or private clouds.
"Cisco is coming to market with an industry milestone that will fundamentally allow customers to place their workloads into any cloud ... and then for bidirectional movement and secure movement of workloads across this world of many clouds," said Fabio Gori, Senior Director of Cloud Marketing, Cisco.
In addition to Cisco calling the InterCloud an "industry milestone" that will help support customers and partners in their move toward hybrid, and more open, cloud environments, the company singled out Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure in its press release announcing the new offering, but did not single out VMware's vCloud Hybrid until pressed on whether InterCloud supports the VMware public cloud.
A key solutions architect for a top VMware enterprise partner said he suspects that Cisco will have trouble making InterCloud and ACI compatible with VMware offerings given VMware's $1.26 billion acquisition of software-defined networking high-flyer Nicira in 2012.
Among the other key technology partners supporting the Cisco Powered services are: BT, CSC-ServiceMesh, CenturyLink, Virtustream, EMC, Citrix, Microsoft, NetApp, Rackspace, VCE and Zerto. Cisco also singled out SP500 powerhouse Denali Advanced Integration, No. 114 on the SP500, for its support of the InterCloud software.
InterCloud represents the latest in a string of moves Cisco has made that pit it against long-time partner VMware, which is aggressively promoting its own open approach to cloud orchestration. In November, Cisco, alongside its SDN spin-in Insieme Networks, launched ACI, less than three months after VMware launched its own flagship SDN platform NSX.
Bill Barry, chief architect at Denali Advanced Integration, a Redmond, Wash.-based solution provider and No. 114 on the SP500, said he sees InterCloud as a highly disruptive, game-changing solution that is set to shake up the overall cloud services market.
Specifically, Barry said, it will free customers from feeling "locked in" to a specific cloud service provider.
"It's disruptive to VMware, it's disruptive to OpenStack, and it's highly disruptive to AWS and Azure," Barry told CRN. "Any [vendor] who wants to lock anybody in is going to be highly threatened by this."
For Denali, Barry said InterCloud represents a massive opportunity to move toward more of a cloud brokerage model and help their customers build out next-generation hybrid cloud ecosystems.
"We feel that by arming companies with Cisco InterCloud, through Denali, we will be able to create a new environment for [customers] where we can help them transform whatever they have today into this transparent, portable cloud environment, and really with very minimal disruption and with all the help and horsepower Cisco is putting in behind this," Barry said.
NEXT: Cisco's New Application Policy Controller