Cisco Systems on Monday announced a $1 billion investment in what it calls its Intercloud, a linked chain of datacenters providing services designed to capitalize on the Internet of Things. Cisco has no intention of competing with Amazon Web Services, Google, or Rackspace in supplying general-purpose infrastructure as a set of cloud services. Instead, it has assembled a set of partners to offer a global chain of datacenters linked by a Cisco network to serve as a backbone for the Internet of Things.
"This is not about five public cloud datacenters worldwide," said Fabio Gori, director of Cisco cloud marketing, in a description that sounded suspiciously like VMware's vCloud Hybrid Service. Rather, Cisco announced nine partners that will help it build out a set of services on top of OpenStack software to serve as worldwide data-collection points for device data, analytics, and data warehousing.
Gori couldn't put a number on how many datacenters the chain might eventually include, but said it "will leverage Cisco datacenters and those of select partners" to build its chain rapidly. Its own facilities will be combined with those of Australian partner Telstra to put its initial set online in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia "by the end of the year," Gori said in an interview.
[Want to learn more about Cisco's approach to application-centric infrastructure? See Cisco Insieme ACI Goes Beyond SDN.]
Cisco will sidestep the approach of supplying single-instance provisioning for customer workloads in favor of an application-centric approach. It envisions a customer directing a device or set of devices to direct data streams into the Cisco Intercloud. Cisco services there will recognize the type of data and the device from which it originates, assign it to a repository with the proper data owner, and then engage in real-time data collection.
Gori pointed out that it will be necessary to have datacenters in certain countries to maintain "the sovereignty of the data," or keeping ownership in the country in which it originates, according to various national-boundary laws around the world.
"Instead of centralizing it in a few datacenters, we have to do it respecting data sovereignty. We couldn't do this alone. We had to leverage the Cisco ecosystem," Gori said.
Cisco announced the Intercloud at its annual Partner Summit in Las Vegas. More details on the types of device data and nature of the storage it will support will be unveiled at Cisco Live 2014, the firm's annual user conclave, in San Francisco the second week of May.
"Our goal is to become the number one supplier of cloud services to IT out there," he added. Cisco may not be competing for workloads with Amazon and Rackspace or for developers with Google and Microsoft, but it is competing for IT budgets to capture, understand, and manage the Internet of Things. Its application-centric approach will allow it to provide public APIs that IT can connect to establish data flows and attach analytical applications. Cisco's intelligence on the network will monitor and adjust network services to those apps, he said.
Among the partners that will participate in the Intercloud will be: Canadian business communications provider Allstream; European cloud service provider Canopy (an Atos company); cloud services aggregator Ingram Micro; New York-based managed services provider Logicalis Group; business and mobile intelligence provider MicroStrategy; US-, UK-, and Canada-located OnX Managed Services; SunGard Availability Services; and IT consulting company Wipro.
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