Cisco Mounting Storage Offensive With New SwiftStack Partnership And Turnkey Solution

Partners are cheering as Cisco boosts its storage offensive through a new strategic partnership with open-source Swift object storage provider SwiftStack to provide a new turnkey solution enabling enterprises to build public cloud storage capabilities within their on-premise data centers.

With the Dell-EMC merger on the horizon, Cisco is integrating its Metapod OpenStack-based private cloud software with SwiftStack 4.0 – the vendor's newest open-source Swift object platform featuring integrated load balancing and improved metadata searches. The alliance marks Cisco's first object storage technology partnership.

"It's a really smart play by Cisco to be partnering around Swift and OpenStack object storage because Cisco doesn't really have that option for object technology like some other competing vendors," said Robert Keblusek, chief technology officer of Downers Grove, Ill.-based Sentinel Technologies, No. 131 on the 2016 CRN Solution Provider 500. "It's a great fit for us to bring to market and it's going to make it easier to consume on Cisco technology for the customers and [easier] for us to sell."

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SwiftStack is providing object storage technology for data-centric workloads that directly integrate with Cisco Metapod and Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS). For channel partners, the solution can be delivered either as a managed service with Cisco Metapod or self-managed.

Cisco said the solution aligns with new data storage architectures and usage models as organizations are consuming more data and new devices are becoming connected through the Internet of Things (IoT).

"Cisco is working with SwiftStack to provide enterprises with a low-risk solution for scaling compute and storage on-premises for unstructured data workloads, as well as new storage consumption models for the Internet of Things," said Alan Waldman, vice president of product development at Cisco, in a blog post Tuesday.

Partners have had mixed feelings regarding Cisco's storage strategy after the San Jose-based networking giant closed its Invicta storage business last year after a failed attempt to enter the market based on its acquisition of Whiptail in 2013. Solution providers are now more bullish on Cisco's strategy and partners' ability to capture more storage revenue opportunities.

Mark Melvin, CTO of ePlus Technology, a Herndon, Va.-based solution provider and Cisco partner, said he "absolutely" sees net-new opportunities to build public cloud storage capabilities into customers' on-premise data centers with Cisco.

"We're already doing the same sort of thing with NetApp and EMC and their connection to Amazon, [Microsoft] Azure, et cetera," said Melvin. "This is providing another arrow in our quiver. I'm looking forward to seeing how this will fit for a number of different customer needs that we have."

Included in the new SwiftStack 4.0 is a series of data migration tools, the ability to integrate file and object storage, and an optional desktop client for Windows or Mac environments, allowing users to pull data from storage to their laptops for sync and share without the need for third-party applications.

In an interview with CRN in May, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said his strategy around storage is to form strategic partnerships with storage vendors, rather than through acquisitions in the space.

"Our commitment is still to these partnerships because I believe that's what our customers would like to see us do," said Robbins. "At any point in the future, if the customer feedback is that we need to do something differently, then we'll take that assessment and look at it. But right now I think we're very pleased and the partnership model seems to be working."

Partners say Cisco's partnership strategy around storage has been successful thus far.

"We've had success with their partnerships with EMC, with Nimble [Storage], and with others," said Keblusek. "So their partnership strategy is working right now."