"Cisco is very channel sensitive," Mahowald said. "InterCloud is not so much about building customer-ready cloud services, but enabling partners to build clouds, with software-defined infrastructure. They want to sell more gear to partners as partners face the opportunity of selling cloud services."
The InterCloud concept could allow enterprises to shift their workloads from one InterCloud provider to another, avoiding the lock-in that may happen when a customer relies too heavily on a single cloud provider. Each Cisco partner will use OpenStack cloud software and Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) architecture.
"I think customers will want embrace the idea that the cloud is not a single vendor lock, but based on specifications that are widely supported," Mahowald said.
Cisco's knowledge of the enterprise plays a key role in the new offerings, agreed Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT analyst firm.
"Many enterprises have been slow or loathe to adopt cloud due to critical security and data governance issues. Cisco's goal of enabling processes, data and solutions to be shared across multiple global cloud service providers is a concept that could and should be attractive to many of its enterprise customers," King wrote, by email.
"The company is aiming to expand on its already significant position in enterprise and service provider networking by becoming the network plumbing contractor for global cloud services and deployments. For service providers and their customers, access to rock solid networking technology is key to cloud dependability. That core requirement is what Cisco is banking on," King wrote.
The $1 billion investment is similar to a proclamation IBM made earlier this year, in which it promised to invest $1 billion into its cloud services, following its $2 billion purchase of cloud provider SoftLayer last year.
"I think everyone is taking note of AWS and moving to do something," wrote Peter Christy, research director of networking for 451 Research, in an email.
(IDG News Service reporter Joab Jackson in New York contributed to this story. )
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