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Cisco, Under Siege, Makes OpenStack Cloud Move with Red Hat

You have to give Cisco Systems Inc. credit: It's certainly not sitting idly by while its traditional proprietary networking model comes under siege by upstart software-defined networking (SDN) and virtualization technologies, sophisticated cloud implementations and the open networking movement.

Coming off a tough earnings call last month with investors and the announcement of a massive layoff, the company this week made all kinds of news in conjunction with its partner, Red Hat, a leader in the open source arena.

The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets have reported how the networking giant is under pressure from customers and analysts who want to see the company emphasize "lower prices, interoperable gear and faster innovation with new SDN networking gear."

Bloomberg, meanwhile, reported "Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. are telling the world's largest networking-gear maker that they won't keep paying for expensive equipment, when software can squeeze out more performance and make the machines more versatile," in an article titled, "Cisco CEO Pressured by Goldman Sachs to Embrace Software."

So yesterday, in what could be seen as a direct response to the aforementioned criticisms, Cisco and Red Hat announced an escalation of their partnership in three main areas: the open source OpenStack cloud platform; Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) -- its answer to SDN; and the "Intercloud," described by Cisco as "a network of clouds."

"Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure for Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform (UCSO) will combine Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS), Cisco ACI and Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform," the companies said in one of many announcements yesterday.

The Cisco Unified Computing System.
[Click on image for larger view.]The Cisco Unified Computing System
(source: Cisco Systems Inc.)

UCS is a 5-year-old datacenter platform that seeks to integrate hardware, virtualization support, switching fabric and management functionality into one cohesive platform, simplifying management, according to Wikipedia.

Cisco said its UCS Integrated Infrastructure solution combines UCS servers with Nexus switches, UCS Director management software and storage access as key components for building private, public and hybrid clouds.

On the OpenStack aspect of the expanded partnership, the companies said they "are working together to provide fully supported, certified platforms that deliver open source innovation and optimized functionality. The companies intend to collaborate to deliver validated architectures, a growing third-party ISV and IHV ecosystem, governance across clouds, and advanced services for lifecycle management of cloud solutions."

In the ACI part of the initiative, the companies said they "are extending the Cisco ACI policy framework to OpenStack environments, enabling customers to leverage greater policy-based automation in their cloud environments."

For the Intercloud, "Cisco and Red Hat intend to develop carrier-grade, service provider solutions for the Cisco Evolved Services Platform -- Cisco's software and virtualization platform for hybrid cloud deployments. Red Hat and Cisco also collaborate around OpenShift, Red Hat's award-winning Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering, and storage technologies, including Ceph."

The new UCSO collaboration between Cisco and Red Hat is expected to come in three variations: Starter Edition, Advanced Edition and Advanced ACI Edition.

The Starter Edition, expected by year's end, is designed for the simple and quick installation of private clouds. The Advanced Edition is for fast deployment and management of large private clouds. The Advanced ACI Edition will use the Cisco ACI technology to deploy and operate policy-driven infrastructure for large-scale clouds.

"Open source technology has emerged as the catalyst for cloud innovation," said Red Hat exec Paul Cormier. "Cisco is a market leader in cloud infrastructure and integrated infrastructure, while Red Hat brings market leadership and deep domain expertise of open source and OpenStack. By combining our complementary strengths, Cisco and Red Hat have a unique opportunity to capitalize on this market disruption."

Posted by David Ramel on 09/05/2014 at 1:27 PM


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