Dimension Data Goes All In With Cisco InterCloud, Signs On As First Global Hosting Partner

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Cisco Tuesday shed new light on its emerging InterCloud strategy, revealing systems integration giant Dimension Data as its first global InterCloud hosting partner.

The partnership, which was unveiled at the 2014 Cisco Live event this week in San Francisco, will involve Dimension Data, a longtime Cisco partner and No. 11 on CRN's 2013 Solution Provider 500 List, hosting Cisco-branded Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings, which Cisco will then bring to market through its own reseller channel.

Dimension Data represents the first global hosting partner to join what Cisco has dubbed the InterCloud partner network.

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

"We have 23 years of history with Dimension Data and now this -- an evolution of our relationship as we move forward as InterCloud partners," said Rob Lloyd, president of development and sales at Cisco, speaking at Cisco Live Tuesday.

The Dimension Data agreement comes two months after Cisco's Global Partner Summit, where the networking titan 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 such as IaaS and SaaS, but is also hosting these services in partner-owned data centers -- or what it calls InterCloud "nodes" -- that use Cisco gear.

Out of the gate, Cisco unveiled Australian service provider Telstra as its initial InterCloud hosting partner, but Dimension Data, Cisco said, is the first truly global InterCloud partner, meaning it will leverage its global data center footprint to deliver Cisco cloud services around the world.  

Dimension Data will be the first InterCloud hosting partner to go to market with Cisco-branded cloud services. The Johannesburg-based company is slated to roll out Cisco IaaS and SaaS offerings within the next 90 days. Telstra, Cisco said, is expected to go live by the "end of the calendar year."

Stephen Nola, group executive of IT-as-a-Service at Dimension Data, said one of the reasons Dimension Data was interested in joining Cisco's InterCloud initiative is that it gives providers such as Dimension Data access to a growing global network of clouds.

"We have been in discussions with Cisco around the whole InterCloud concept and we saw it as a wonderful vehicle to continue to look at how we can serve clients on a global basis," Nola told CRN. "There are facilities or access points that we can't reach, but being part of the overall [InterCloud] program allows us to get our capabilities into areas we otherwise don’t have access to."

Dimension Data is hosting two "bundles" of Cisco-branded cloud services. The first is going to include Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) Director for managing converged infrastructure environments such as Vblock, FlexPod and VSPEX; Cisco's InterCloud Fabric, which is software for moving workloads between different public and private clouds; and Dimension Data's own public IaaS offering.

The second bundle will include all the components of the first bundle, plus two SaaS applications: Microsoft SQL Server and SharePoint.  

No word on pricing yet, but Cisco said it plans on being "very competitive."

Both bundles will be hosted by Dimension Data, but white-labeled by Cisco and sold through the Cisco channel. With the InterCloud announcement, Dimension Data said it will expand its data center footprint from 10 to 13 locations by September of this year.

What's more, those Dimension Data data centers will be upgraded to include Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and Cisco InterCloud Fabric software, a migration Cisco said all InterCloud hosting partners eventually will make, since these two technologies are the "underpinning" of InterCloud.

Cisco, for its part, has six data centers for hosting its own cloud services. Over the next 12 months, Cisco said it wants to have a presence, either through its own data centers or partner-owned data centers, in 70 countries.

In addition to the announcement with Dimension Data, Cisco said Tuesday that cloud provider and disaster recovery specialist Sungard Availability Services agreed to join the InterCloud network.

Cisco also said VCE is working to integrate the Cisco InterCloud Fabric into Vblock, while NetApp will do the same with FlexPod.

NEXT: Cisco's Peres Talks InterCloud Partner Roles

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