Cisco sees promise in the clouds with new framework

Cisco this week unveiled products and packaging options for customers looking to implement public, private and hybrid cloud computing.

Cisco’s new CloudVerse framework is designed to enable organisations to build, manage and connect public, private and hybrid clouds, the company said.

According to the company, it includes some existing Cisco products, such as Unified Computing System servers, Nexus switches and network management applications, as well as new software for collaboration, improved management and enhanced connectivity, and services to help customers design and deploy their environments.

Cisco said that more than 50% of computing workloads in data centres will be cloud-based by 2014. Also, global cloud traffic will grow more than twelvefold by 2015, to 1.6 Zettabytes per year — the equivalent of more than four days of business class video for every person on Earth, the company says.

This expected growth creates the need for tighter interaction between data centers and networks to support end-to-end cloud application and service delivery in a dynamic, on-demand model, Cisco said.

Analysts sbelieve CloudVerse will face competition from Alcatel-Lucent’s CloudBand and from other cloud IT vendors that are expected to soon announce their own comprehensive cloud enablement offerings.

“CloudVerse, and Alcatel-Lucent’s recent CloudBand strategy, are the most comprehensive and focused cloud enablement offerings aimed at service providers,” said Dana Cooperson of Ovum. “Both have the typical IT elements that are part of any cloud story, but the new part for both Alcatel-Lucent — which partners with HP for the IT bits — and Cisco is the emphasis on combining the IT/data centre piece with the network/communication piece.”

Others see CloudVerse as a way to overcome barriers to cloud adoption — but only if customers adopt a Cisco-only solution.

“How do you solve some of the barriers out there that keep people from adopting cloud?” asks Zeus Kerravala of ZK Research in assessing the rationale for CloudVerse. “It’s solving the management and interoperability problems with the cloud. This shows that Cisco is thinking about cloud service and adoption. But multivendor interoperability, you’d think that would come sometime down the road.”

The new software Cisco’s rolling out for CloudVerse includes cloud-specific management applications for the UCS servers and Nexus switches; for ASR edge routers; and for Cisco’s hosted collaboration platform, representatives said.

For management, Cisco unveiled Intelligent Automation for the Cloud, which provides automated provisioning and control of data centre resources so IT services can be delivered within and between data centres. Cisco also rolled out Network Services Manager, which is designed to automatically create, deploy and modify physical and virtual networking resources on demand.

For the ASR edge routers, Cisco has added its Network Provisioning System (NPS) software to the ASR 1000 and 9000 models. NPS debuted with the CRS-3 carrier core router last year — it acts as a GPS for the network by steering traffic toward the most reachable source of compute and storage resources, or content.

In the CloudVerse context, NPS is the foundation for interconnecting separate cloud networks — what Cisco calls “Cloud-to-Cloud Connect” — enabling dynamic resource identification, allocation and optimisation between data centres and clouds.

And on the hosted collaboration solution (HCS) platform, Cisco added Private Cloud HCS, which is intended to allow enterprises to build their own collaboration cloud using Cisco validated and tested designs. Cisco also added Mobile HCS, which allows mobile service providers to now offer collaboration from the cloud on mobile phones

This offering extends HCS to mobile devices from fixed devices on desktops.

A third enhancement to HCS is Customer Collaboration, which is a cloud-based contact center offering. Adding these to the cloud is intended to make the services more affordable and accessible to organizations implementing cloud.

Cisco is supporting CloudVerse with new cloud enablement services, which combine Cisco’s professional services with that of its partners to help organisations design, deploy and optimise cloud computing for their business, the company announced.

Cisco says early elements of CloudVerse are being used by more than 70% of cloud providers, including ACS, a Xerox company; Fujitsu; Orange Business Services; Silicon Valley Bank; Telecom Italia; Telefónica Spain; Telstra and Verizon Terremark.

CloudVerse will be generally available in 2012, Cisco said. Cisco also plans to extend its SecureX security architecture to CloudVerse.

According to Cisco, SecureX involves use of a tagging technology in Cisco firewalls to identify a wide range of information about a user’s network usage, such as applications, devices, location and time of day, so that security decisions can be made in a context-aware fashion.

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