Cisco Helps Carriers Build a Cloud

cisco1Cisco (s csco) today announced its Unified Service Delivery (USD) strategy, which connects the data center with IP Next-Generations Networks (NGNs) to help service providers meet the increasing demand for high-bandwidth and time-dependent services ranging from consumer video to enterprise applications. Essentially a unification of existing components with a couple new products thrown into the mix, the move establishes Cisco’s place in the cloud computing ecosystem as a provider of infrastructure components for cloud service platforms.

Regarding the data center aspect, Cisco says it consists of unified fabrics, virtualization and the company’s Unified Computing System servers. Linking optimized data centers to application-aware IP NGNs will let managed service providers ensure they can offer an end-to-end service, according to Simon Aspinall, senior director of service provider marketing at Cisco, thus differentiating themselves from web-based cloud providers.

But the pitch to service providers goes beyond merely boosting their flexibility in next-generation service delivery. Aspinall claims that USD can save service providers big money overall vs. Data Center 2.0 approaches -– up to 35 percent OPEX and 20 percent CAPEX –- and even more on the delivery of specific services. Far from being a rip-and-replace solution, USD is designed to work with existing data center technology, including most hypervisors and systems management products.

Putting its money where its mouth is, Cisco’s enterprise network follows the USD vision, and its WebEx Collaboration Cloud has many of the pieces in place, too. However, rather than cut out the middleman and just host SaaS apps and other cloud services itself (à la OpSource), Cisco seems content in an arms dealer role -– equipping its customers to fight that battle instead. Offering a platform of its own, Aspinall says, would put Cisco in direct competition with it customers. It’s a little disappointing given Cisco’s expertise and resources, but the upshot is that USD should let customers like Savvis and Terremark make the most of the millions they’ve already spent building their infrastructures.