Cisco, Microsoft Join Forces For New Cloud Platform

The relationship between Cisco Systems and Microsoft is getting stronger following the rollout of an integrated technology solution from the two giants Wednesday that has major implications for their respective partners.

"I think they both would profess they weren't always best of friends," said Kent MacDonald, vice president of converged infrastructure and network services at Long View Systems, a Calgary, Alberta-based solution provider, and Cisco and Microsoft partner. "I'm glad they seem to recognize there's an opportunity for collaboration within the cloud and certainly complement each other. … They were able to put aside the collaboration competitive landscape and develop a joint architecture and go-to-market [offering] around cloud and data center that is very positive for partners on both sides."

The two companies signed a three-year agreement in July to increase integration across their data center portfolios and jointly market their technology.

Wednesday's introduction of the Cisco Cloud Architecture for the Microsoft Cloud Platform integrates Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) with Microsoft's Windows Azure Pack, according to a joint release, to help cloud providers more quickly deliver hybrid cloud services while simplifying operations and cutting costs.

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"This synergy makes our lives easier vs. silo engagements that we see go to market," said MacDonald. "I think it speaks to what they both recognize, which is there's a market shift to cloud and if they can make that a positive experience for clients and not have this silo vendor go-to-market [approach], I think this synergy offers a more appealing and attractive customer experience."

Jaime Shepard, senior vice president of strategy and health care at Lumenate, a Dallas-based solution provider and Cisco partner, said the partnership gives more solution providers an opportunity to become a Cisco partner.

"For partners that are Microsoft-enabled, they now have a goal to become a potential Cisco partner, but that can take time," said Shepard.

Cisco also said Monday that 14 cloud providers from across the globe will join Cisco's Intercloud partner ecosystem, which brings the total amount of Intercloud providers to more than 60 with 350 data centers in 50 countries.

"Intercloud is still maturing, the security aspects are very strong and customer adoption has now finally begun," said Shepard. "We are having more and more of these discussions with customers."

With Intercloud, Cisco is hoping to build the world's largest network of clouds, designed for high-value application workloads, real-time scalability and "near infinite" scalability," according to a release. In January 2014, Cisco launched a new type of Intercloud infrastructure software.