Intercloud is the concept of connected cloud networks, including public, private, and hybrid clouds. It incorporates a number of technology efforts put together to improve interoperability and portability among cloud networks.
The Intercloud started as a research project in Cisco in 2008 and was soon taken up by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The goal was to improve interoperability of cloud networks. The terms “Inter-Cloud Computing” and “Intercloud” were used to address this concept.
The term “Intercloud” is originally attributed to the journalist and technology author Kevin Kelly, according to several sources. In addition, a series of conferences led by the IEEE about the topic. The goal is to connect different cloud computing platforms and allows the data and applications to be ported between data centers or cloud services.
In May of 2009, a team paper titled “Cloud Computing Interoperability Protocols and Formats – Defining the Intercloud” was introduced at the International IEEE Workshop on Cloud Computing/International Symposium on Cluster Computing and the Grid in Shanghai, China. In 2013, the IEEE introduced the founding members of an Intercloud Testbed, which included 21 cloud and network service providers, cloud technology companies, and academic and industry research institutions from the United States, the Asia-Pacific region, and Europe.
One of the goals of the Intercloud testbed is to plot the development of a forthcoming IEEE P2302 standard for cloud-to-cloud interworking. Founder members work on the testbed to share knowledge and develop a working standard prototype and methodologies for cloud interworking.
Cisco Systems also has a product called “Cisco Intercloud” designed to be a “cloud of clouds” that can seamlessly connect data centers. Cisco announced that Telstra was Cisco’s first major service provider partner on Intercloud.
“Cisco global Intercloud will offer the ability to achieve unprecedented speed, scale, and world class economics along with an expanded suite of value-added application- and network-centric cloud services to capture the full value of the Internet of Everything,” according to a blog by Cisco’s Fabio Gori, director of worldwide cloud marketing.
Cisco introduced the Intercloud Fabric (ICF) in 2013. It is designed to enable migrations of virtual machines among private and public clouds and is based on OpenStack technology. A corporate blog written by Cisco executive Rob Lloyd described Cisco’s pursuit of a hybrid cloud model, combining private and public cloud resources.
In 2014, former Cisco Executive Chairman and former CEO John Chambers said that Cisco would invest $1 billion in cloud technologies and that a hybrid Intercloud would be part of the investment.
Despite much media and marketing hype about Intercloud, it’s not exactly clear where it is in the commercial market today.
The IEEE has been relatively quiet on Intercloud since 2013. The IEEE’s last press release on Intercloud was in 2013. At the Cisco Live conference in June, Cisco announced it is partnering with 35 independent software vendors (ISVs) to accelerate the creation of innovative cloud services for the Intercloud.
Cisco appears to be focusing on buying OpenStack platforms as part of its cloud strategy. In June of 2015, Cisco bought Piston Cloud Computing, a company focused on building cloud platforms based on OpenStack. In 2014, Cisco bought MetaCloud, another technology company focused on using OpenStack for cloud deployments. Other large technology companies, such as HP and Red Hat, are focusing on providing a wide range of tools and applications build on OpenStack as a cloud platform.
Despite the various initiatives there are many challenges to create a global, interoperable Intercloud, including security and trust, governance and legal issues, QoS, monitoring, arbitrage, and billing.