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Summary:

Cisco today outlined its plans for delivering IT services over the web (aka cloud services), and as part of a conference call, showed off a great slide that illustrates exactly how many companies this former networking gear maker wants to take on. If I were to […]

Cisco today outlined its plans for delivering IT services over the web (aka cloud services), and as part of a conference call, showed off a great slide that illustrates exactly how many companies this former networking gear maker wants to take on. If I were to boil it all down, I’d say the company’s cloud strategy relies heavily on its hardware to make its WebEx-branded collaboration software run economically. Padmasree Warrior, Cisco’s CTO, said the company sees the cloud as having four layers, with the bottommost layer being the hardware infrastructure provided by Cisco’s new servers. The top three are the more traditional infrastructure-as-a-service offerings, platforms as a service and software as a service (see slide).

ciscocompete

The only area where Cisco doesn’t want to play (most likely because it’s where its service provider customers want to build their own businesses) will be the infrastructure-as-a-service layer. However, Cisco will host its own services, and will do so on the new UCS hardware.

Warrior said the company has seen a 30 percent reduction in capital expenditures and a 20 percent decrease in operating expenses tied to IT, thanks to hosting its WebEx platform on Cisco hardware. She also spent some time describing new features and how Cisco is building its PostPath and Jabber acquisitions into its WebEx brand to offer email and IM integrated with WebEx’s meeting capabilities.

However, as Cisco moves deeper into the cloud, it will be interesting to keep an eye on the questions that weren’t answered. I asked how Cisco plans to interoperate with Amazon’s computing and storage platform. Instead of giving an answer, Warrior started talking about how there will be a variety of clouds, including public and internal private, and how Cisco wants to provide an “inter-cloud” system for communications among the various clouds in five to six years. In order to do that, Warrior said, the technology world will have to work on open standards for naming, directories, and presence awareness, as well as protect corporations that don’t want to have such openness between clouds. But most folks want their clouds to interoperate today, not half a decade from now, so all of this is more hype than help.

Another tidbit from the call is that Cisco believes its hardware will likely win floor space inside enterprise data centers for running private clouds rather than among the larger public clouds built on commodity hardware. In a dig against such services, Warrior noted that the enterprise need for reliability and service level agreements will preclude companies from using commodity hardware to underpin their clouds.

  1. Folks at Cisco should try gotomeeting and then revisit the whole webex thing. I was delighted when a webex session blew up for me, taking down not only my system but all the other laptops on the webinar that were running nvidia graphics, which was pretty much all the thinkpads. That was fun. Fortunately everyone thought it was Vista….

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    1. i am not a huge fan of cisco but i have to admin that 1/ 2 of the firms that i work with can not use gotomeeting (they actually block it) because of security risks and gotomypc … so webex is an excellent choice and have never had any issues over the last 6 years.

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  2. I really don’t see Cisco being a strong software player. Even the WebEx “platform” feels more opportunistic than actually a way in which companies will want to work. It has a nice desktop client, but lacks a real stickiness that cloud apps need. It would be great to have Cisco as a cloud player because they certainly have the hardware and management knowhow for infrastructure issues, but maybe they should stick with virtualization of infrastructure. Trying to take to the whole cloud stack will only expose their weaknesses in understanding software products.

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  3. Private Citizen Tuesday, June 30, 2009

    Stacey -

    Nice piece. Was this an invite only event? Do you have a copy of the slides that you can post?

    Thanks -

    Private Citizen

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    1. Stacey Higginbotham Wednesday, July 1, 2009

      Most of the slides shown were stock art. It may have been invite-only, but I’m not sure. The only other slide I recall was one I had seen before showing the growth potential of services in the cloud. It was primarily Q&A rather than a presentation.

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  4. This is good news. All these entries will make the cost of cloud computing lower for all of us. For at binfire.com we use our own servers, but we are seriously thinking of moving to one of infrastructure as a service providers.

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  5. “But most folks want their clouds to interoperate today, not half a decade from now, so all of this is more hype than help” At Vordel we can offer cloud interoperability today via our Cloud Gateway:
    http://www.vordel.com/news/press/30_06_09.html

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  6. Nice Piece. WebEx Connect was launched in September 2006, and hasn’t got any traction. Its a shame. Cisco is full of very smart people — they may figure this out yet… But meanwhile more nimble companies will out-innovate and potentially threaten their position… and dare I say it — actually make joining online meetings an easy, fun experience like many of the other web apps available on the market today! (I am biased as CMO of Fuze Meeting!)

    @fuzemeeting

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  7. [...] Cisco Launches Services, Shows Off Its Hit List – Cisco today outlined its plans for delivering IT services over the web (aka cloud services), and as part of a conference call, showed off a great slide that illustrates exactly how many companies this former networking gear maker wants to take on. [...]

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