Cisco Outlines CloudVerse Ambitions

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Seven Signs You've Backed Your Cloud into a Corner

There are many opportunities to make strategic errors that wind up doing more harm than good.

When Cisco first launched its Unified Computing System (UCS), the company's end game was assumed to be control of the data center. But with the launch today of Cisco CloudVerse, it's becoming clear that Cisco's enterprise computing ambitions go well beyond the data center.

Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior describes Cisco CloudVerse as a framework for integrating public, private and hybrid cloud computing platforms. To enable that framework, Cisco announced that it is adding tools that automate the provisioning and management of server and network resources across multiple data centers. In addition, Cisco announced a Cisco Network Positioning System for the ASR 1000 and 9000 Series Aggregation Services Routers that it will deliver in 2012, which are intended to enable dynamic resource identification, allocation and optimization between data centers and various cloud computing services.

The conversation that Cisco is really trying to force is the inevitable convergence of IT management functions that will occur as cloud computing gets increasingly adopted. Instead of managing individual server, storage and networking, IT organizations will need to be organized around the delivery of specific cloud computing services. That represents a major challenge in that if every piece of equipment is supporting multiple cloud services, any change to the configuration of those devices could have a cascading effect across multiple services. That means creating a framework for managing all the server, storage and network systems in concert with one another, which is a pretty tall order for most organizations.

Cisco, of course, sees this as an argument for consolidating IT infrastructure around a set of technologies from one vendor. That's an argument that Cisco is willing to make more forcefully because it now claims a 20 percent share of the x86 servers sold in the last year as its UCS continues to gain momentum. Obviously, Cisco is not the only vendor making these arguments these days. In fact, it's inevitable that IT organizations are going to be revisiting the single vendor versus best-of-breed argument in the era of the cloud.

It's much too early to say which direction the majority of IT organizations are going to jump, or for that matter how much of that infrastructure will be part of clouds running on premise or in a third-party data center. But what is clear is that the time to make that decision is coming soon, which means IT organizations should be determining now just what kind of IT service provider they ultimately want to be.