Cisco's CliQr cloud purchase is bad news for enterprises

Cisco's CliQr cloud purchase is bad news for enterprises
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Cloud-management platforms need to be vendor-neutral to help IT deploy clouds effectively, and now there's one fewer option

In another example of consolidation in the cloud market, Cisco Systems intends to buy cloud-management platform provider CliQr Technologies for $260 million. That's not good news for IT shops pursuing a multicloud strategy.

Cloud-orchestration tools like CliQr's are important for enterprise admins to deploy and manage applications across the gamut of bare-metal, virtualized, and container-based environments. Such tools are particularly important when you use multiple cloud providers, as most enterprises should. Enterprises need to abstract away the underlying complexities of running multiple clouds, which is what cloud-management platforms do.

That's why Cisco's acquisition of CliQr is bad news. Cisco will move CliQr into its InterCloud framework. That makes sense -- CliQr was already part of Cisco's recommended suite for deploying InterCloud, and owning the technology will let Cisco control a key on-ramp to its InterCloud.

But it doesn't make sense for IT. To be effective, cloud-management platforms need to be both technology- and cloud-agnostic. That independence ends once these platforms are purchased by large enterprise vendors that focus on their own cloud offerings, in a bid to steer customers to their offerings.

Cisco's CliQr purchase is the latest in several similar acquisitions of other cloud orchestrators, all of which have reduced the number of independent, platform-agnostic cloud-management platforms for IT to use. CSC bought ServiceMesh in 2013, Dell bought Enstratius in 2013, and IBM bought Gravitant last year.

The CliQr acquisition leaves a hole in the market that, I hope, other vendors such as Rightscale might fill. Given the critical role of cloud orchestration in successful cloud deployments, I'd like to see more independent cloud-management providers come to the market -- quickly -- to replace the ones gobbled up by the Ciscos, Dells, and IBMs.

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