Cisco learned a lot from its time dabbling in the public cloud world. But its biggest takeaway was that the world doesn’t need another public cloud. What it needs is help navigating this new multi-cloud world and keeping workloads safe.
Speaking this week as part of a Baird Tech Talk, Kip Compton, VP of Cisco’s cloud platform and solutions group, said the company learned from launching and later shuttering Intercloud, the company’s federated cloud platform it debuted in September 2014 and folded in December 2016. “We developed technologies that we can take forward, but our strategy has pivoted,” Compton said.
Many of those technologies are part of the company’s multi-cloud strategy. That strategy includes four components: cloud security (protecting users and endpoints); consumption (managing the costs of the cloud); connection (enabling enterprises to connect to the cloud); and advisory services.
Compton said the company found that while the majority of customers (94 percent according to a recent IDC study) plan to use multiple clouds for their workloads, only 10 percent have actually mastered it. Most enterprises want to work with different cloud providers, but they are having difficulty doing that.
“We want to enable customers to extend the framework beyond on prem and cloud and treat it as a single system,” Compton said, noting that Cisco has two customers for this product line: the enterprise and the developer.
And Compton notes that this new multi-cloud strategy fits with the company’s goal of moving away from revenue based upon hardware sales and toward a software licensing model that generates recurring revenue from licensing software. “All elements are recurring software revenue,” he said.
Compton noted that with its new strategy, Cisco will benefit regardless of whether the customers keep the workloads on premises or in the public cloud. “The ability to offer our networking capabilities and security capabilities and performance analytics from AppDynamics across the public cloud and on prem is available to customers and makes us less sensitive to whether a customer’s workload is on prem or in the public cloud.”
He also said that customers like the fact that Cisco is a neutral party and not advocating for a particular cloud provider. In October Cisco partnered with Google in a hybrid cloud offering that allows enterprises to deploy Kubernetes-based containers on premises and in the Google Cloud Platform.
Cutting Cloud Costs
Interestingly, Compton said that Cisco can help enterprises reduce the cost of moving workloads around and also help companies avoid “cloud lock,” a term enterprises use to describe the difficulty they have moving from one public cloud to another because of certain frameworks and features.
“You can use the Cisco router to move workloads among different clouds,” Compton said. However, he added that even though enterprises often say they want to avoid cloud lock they often aren’t willing to give up certain features or advantages that one cloud provider might offer.
But look for more partnerships between Cisco and the hyperscale companies. Besides the Google deal, Compton hinted that the company is seeing a lot of interest from its deal with Microsoft to offer its Azure Stack software on UCS hardware. Azure Stack is basically a slice of the Microsoft public cloud that an enterprise can run either in its own data center or at the customer premises.