Cisco Public Cloud Push Piques Partner Interest, But Questions Remain

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For Cisco partners who haven't invested in hosting their own IaaS or other cloud offerings, they said the white-label and other services opportunities presented through Cisco's new cloud push will be huge.

"I think it's a great move on the part of Cisco," said Waheed Choudhry, president and COO of Nexus IS, a Valencia, Calif.-based Cisco Gold partner. "It helps to validate a marketplace, No. 1 and, No. 2, for a partner like us, who didn’t make an investment in specific cloud assets [but have] offers that are much more white-labeled through partnerships, this is a great extension of the partnership we have with Cisco."

Tim Hebert, CEO of Atrion Networking, a Warwick, R.I.-based Cisco Gold partner, said he expects new consulting opportunities around Cisco cloud.

"I think it's early now to tell how we'll be able to incorporate Cisco's new cloud services but I think we'll want to work with them on a consultant basis, helping customers understand how to move to the cloud," Hebert said. "Instead of building out a customer's data center to maximum capacity, I could see building it for average capacity and then moving peak workloads to the Cisco InterCloud. ... We're never going to build a data center [to host our own cloud services]. That's just not where we want to be."

Either way, most partners seem to agree that it was time for Cisco to stake a claim in the public cloud market, even if it faces some tough competition from the likes of Amazon Web Services or HP Enterprise public cloud.

"We're still excited for Cisco," said Girouard. "This puts them in middle of software, ISVs relationships and cloud providers, which is exactly where the market is going."

Riordan Maynard, CEO of Touchbase, a Denver-based Cisco Gold partner, said he thinks Cisco's InterCloud strategy looks "amazing."

"I've been asking [Cisco] for it for a long time," Maynard said. "Personally I think cloud is a big-brand game. To have access to capacity through a big brand, I think that's very valuable to partners."

Doug Woolley, group executive of technology at Business Connexion, a Johannesburg, South Africa-based Cisco Gold and HP partner, said it will be interesting to watch how the Cisco-HP cloud battle plays out.

"I think HP's gone through their pain and are lifting their head, whereas Cisco is in the throes of their pain and are trying to work their way out of it," Woolley said. "I'm not going to write [Cisco] off. They're at a crossroads. John Chambers is like a bull in a china shop, he'll push [his vision] through. ... They're the most dangerous player at this point in that they're a little more desperate."

JENNIFER FOLLETT contributed to this story.


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