Cisco Partners: InterCloud Strategy Still Fuzzy, But Peres Could Turn Things Around

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Nearly two months have passed since Cisco's formal entry into the public cloud arena, but some Cisco partners say the details of the networking giant's InterCloud strategy are still fuzzy at best.

Solution providers, however, also tell CRN that the recent appointment of longtime Cisco channel chief Edison Peres to head up Cisco's new partner-focused cloud organization suggests answers are coming soon.

"When Cisco normally announces something, they immediately have a conference call the next day [with partners] and say 'here's the program, here's what the certifications look like and here's what you need to do to get this designation,'" said an executive at one Cisco Gold partner, who asked not to be named. "But with [InterCloud], there's been crickets."

[Related: Cisco Channel Kingpin Peres Tapped To Fast-Track InterCloud Initiative]

At its Global Partner Summit in March, Cisco committed $1 billion to rolling out InterCloud, a global network of connected public, private and hybrid clouds. Cisco itself is building a network of data centers to host cloud services including Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and will also host these services in partner-owned data centers – or what it calls InterCloud "nodes" -- that use Cisco gear.

Out of the gate, Cisco hosting partners include Telstra, Ingram Micro, Logicalis, European cloud company Canopy, Canadian service provider Allstream, and data center and IT solutions provider OnX Managed Services. Cisco said solution providers will be able to resell these services, under a white-label model, both from Cisco directly and its hosting partners.

But some solution providers – specifically those who have already invested in their own branded or Cisco Powered cloud offerings – are still concerned that InterCloud will pit them against a network of cloud providers of greater size and scale, including both Cisco itself and its InterCloud hosting partners. 

The executive of the Cisco Gold partner said InterCloud could especially deal a blow to Cisco partners, like his company, who fall "in the middle" of the cloud services transformation, meaning that, unlike some partners, they've invested in building their own cloud services, but don't necessarily have the scale that Cisco InterCloud partners like Ingram Micro have.

"For people like us, who have been listening to [Cisco] all these years and have been moving to build our own cloud infrastructures ourselves – I feel like we did what everyone asked us to, and for those partners who didn't, [InterCloud] is a free pass to catch up," the partner said.

Other Cisco partners told CRN this week that questions remain around Cisco's InterCloud strategy.

"It was the first [Cisco] Partner Summit we went to where we felt like they didn’t have a very crisp message," said an executive of another Cisco Gold partner, who also requested anonymity. "They announced InterCloud, but partners were left asking 'well, what do we do with it and how do we position it? What's the talk track here?'"

The partner said the InterCloud announcement suggested that, more than anything, Cisco had recognized the need to stake its claim in the fast-moving public cloud services market.

"There is this race to project to the market 'hey we are in this game, we are investing in cloud in the billions,'" he said. "That's important, as people seem to be moving to Amazon or Google [public clouds] at a clip that I think is faster than companies like Cisco or HP thought."

When reached for comment, Cisco said further details regarding InterCloud will come to light at the Cisco Live event next week in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, Chuck Robbins, Cisco's senior vice presdient, Worldwide Field Operations, told CRN at Cisco Partner Summit that the company has begun "detailed planning sessions" with solution providers to ensure Cisco moves forward with InterCloud in a way that "doesn't create some competitive challenge" for partners.

NEXT: Peres' New Role Offers Partners A Sigh Of Relief

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