Q&A: Cisco

Q&A: Cisco's cloud strategy and initiatives

The Intercloud, Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (Cisco ACI), Cisco Metapod (formerly Metacloud), and a host of cloud-based partners and services are key spokes in the Cisco cloud strategy. Paula Dowdy (pictured), senior vice president of cloud, software, and managed services at Cisco, sat down with Unleashing IT to explain how they fit together, and how they help modern enterprises.

Unleashing IT: What is the Intercloud, and what does it mean for enterprise organizations?

Paula Dowdy: Essentially, Cisco Intercloud is the only globally connected network of clouds capable of delivering secure cloud applications and infrastructure everywhere in the world. It’s unique, and it’s needed. Just like the Internet allowed data to move seamlessly between systems, Intercloud allows data and workloads to move securely between clouds, both private and public. It gives customers choice of consumption models and access to a vast array of cloud services.

UIT: What makes Intercloud possible?

PD: Two things. The first is partnership. The Intercloud is enabled through an ecosystem of different Cisco partners, each bringing their capabilities and services into the mix. The second is Cisco Intercloud Fabric, or ICF. It is the enabling technology that allows workloads to be moved seamlessly and securely between clouds and systems. This means organizations can move their processes and data to a different provider if they want, or perhaps move workloads into the cloud for a fast, cost-effective surge capability or DevOps environment.

UIT: How do you help ensure control and compliance?

PD: You’re right to see these aspects as important. Many of our customers see them as mission critical. Until now, concerns about ‘how safe is my data?’ and ‘where in the world is my data?’ have inhibited cloud adoption. But the Intercloud effectively answers those questions. It enables compliance by having data centers in every country to meet data sovereignty and regulatory needs, but globally connected through a committed network of partners working together toward a common vision. And it provides control by enabling customers to extend their own application security policies into other clouds with our Application Centric Infrastructure, also known as Cisco ACI™.

UIT: What about Metacloud, which is now sold as Cisco Metapod? And what does it mean for customers who have already invested in Cisco hardware solutions?

PD: Our goal is to provide the best hybrid cloud solution for customers; one that allows them to maximize their existing private cloud investments and increase their agility through public cloud services. Cisco® Metapod is a production-ready, managed, Infrastructure-as-a-Service solution that we build, deploy, and remotely operate. It’s unique because it “cloud-enables” your on-premises Cisco or third-party storage hardware, but delivers engineering and operations remotely by Cisco. It’s a true hybrid offer with a SaaS pricing model. So it delivers the experience of a public cloud, but with complete control over users, projects, quotas, virtual machine images, storage, networking, and so on. And all of it is protected by portable security policies thanks to Cisco ACI and ICF. Best of all, it can be up and running within 14 days—that’s a game changer!

UIT: What’s next? How will the Cisco cloud strategy continue to evolve?

PD: Along with our partners, we will continue to build out the Intercloud, expand our cloud services and software portfolios, and make it easier for customers to adopt cloud-based solutions. [Cisco] ACI is a key ingredient, so we will be putting a lot of energy behind that, in addition to complementary developments surrounding the Internet of Everything, mobility, and security. You can already see how they are beginning to coalesce into an integrated enabler of better business outcomes, and hybrid cloud is the essential first step.

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