Leading cloud computing service providers predict that in the future they will be at the center of massively distributed computing that will span the globe. But network service providers predict a very different future for cloud computing.
Cisco’s approach to hybrid cloud computing
Case in point is Cisco, which has now extended its Intercloud approach to integrating cloud services from hundreds of providers around the globe to include 35 independent software vendors. Instead of thinking hierarchically, Cisco views each cloud service provider as equal. The size of the cloud service doesn’t matter. What matters is that each cloud runs an instance of the same core set of networking services that make each cloud a natural distributed extension of the other.
In effect, Cisco is enabling a highly distributed approach to hybrid cloud computing that makes it possible for its partners to aggregate those services. The end result allows customers to run application workloads anywhere they choose based on the infrastructure attributes of the cloud service provider. Most significantly for IT services providers, Cisco sees the services that make up this ecosystem being sold primarily by channel partners that represent Cisco as well as multiple cloud providers.
IT service providers’ network-centric approach
The Intercloud approach leverages service router software and networking overlays to create a cloud computing fabric that spans multiple cloud service providers. For solution providers across the channel, this is critical because most customers won’t know what cloud service they’ll need to invoke day to day. Most of them don’t even know how many cloud service providers they actually use. They do know, however, that they need to integrate all these services across a common set of network services.
As a result, many IT organizations are taking a step back from trying to manage the chaos of the cloud. Instead, they are taking a network-centric approach that enables them to layer management, security, and compliance controls on top of any and all cloud service platforms. For many IT professionals, this is a natural extension of how distributed computing is managed inside the enterprise.
Cisco is now simply extending that concept via Intercloud networking software coupled with a set of open Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) programming interfaces that make it feasible to manage heterogeneous clouds at scale.
The new vision for cloud computing
This “software-defined everything” vision of cloud computing can then be applied to anything from Big Data to the Internet of Things (IoT). So far, Cisco has signed up 65 channel partners and cloud service platforms that have deployed some form of Intercloud at more than 100 different customer sites. Cisco also plans to further accelerate Intercloud adoption by opening a Cisco Intercloud marketplace in the fall.
While Cisco might not have the only network-centric approach to hybrid cloud computing, it certainly is the furthest along. The good news, from an IT services provider perspective, is that those networking services turn all those clouds into standard server platforms that can be remotely managed no matter where they happen to be physically located.