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Cisco gives OpenStack a kick in the 'aas'

To help its customers implement a private cloud, Cisco this week announced the acquisition of Metacloud, a company that literally offers OpenStack-based private clouds "as a service" to simplify deployments.

Earlier this year, Cisco announced its strategy to build a world of interconnected clouds. The strategy, called Intercloud, was based on the concept that the compute industry would transition to a number of interconnected public and private clouds where information, data, and workloads could migrate from one cloud to another, securely, and automatically. A grandiose vision, to say the least but to date Cisco has had a number of its service provider and systems integrator partners buy off on the vision of Intercloud.

Intercloud is about more than just public clouds being connected. Private clouds play a significant role in Cisco’s vision, perhaps even more so than public. In a recent ZK Research survey, I polled the respondent base to see what the plans were for public, private, and hybrid clouds. To no surprise, hybrid cloud had the largest share of the pie, with 61%, followed by private only (20%) and public only (19%). This means that 81% of organizations will be building a private cloud, certainly a significant chunk of the market. Also, the majority of companies responding to public only were smaller organizations, meaning almost all mid- to large-size enterprises will be leveraging a private cloud.

To help its customers implement a private cloud, Cisco this week announced the acquisition of a small, private company out of Pasadena called Metacloud. The company was founded in 2011 and its mission is to enable customers to build private clouds easily. The company literally offers OpenStack-based private clouds “as a service” to simplify deployments.

From the numerous interviews I’ve done with IT leaders on the topic of cloud and software defined networks, I can tell you there is plenty of interest in OpenStack-based private clouds. However, deploying OpenStack-based infrastructure, tuning it, and getting it up and running so it provides business-grade quality is no easy task. Metacloud makes this possible by deploying, operating, and managing OpenStack-based private clouds in the customer’s data center through a managed service model.

The service is built on some “special sauce” that enables Metacloud to manage the lifecycle of the private cloud for the customer. With this model, all of the hardware and other infrastructure remain on the customer premise. Metacloud gains access to the on-premise infrastructure through the customer’s firewall over a secure connection. Metacloud enables organizations to build a private cloud but enjoy the benefits of the public cloud experience, including self-service tools, APIs, and integrated developer tools. However, unlike public clouds, customers have the security and control of a private cloud. The flexibility and agility of public clouds combined with the assurance of a private cloud gives the customers the best of both worlds. If the customer so chooses, Metacloud can run the private cloud in its own data centers, giving customers a “virtual” private cloud.

The “as a service” model that Metacloud offers should give OpenStack a kick-start as the service masks much of the complexity and provides the environment through a rich dashboard or through OpenStack APIs. The push a company of Cisco’s size and reach can give private clouds with this acquisition will accelerate the path to hybrid clouds as OpenStack enables service provider public clouds to interoperate with private cloud environment. Overall, it’s a solid, cloud-based acquisition that should greatly help Cisco fulfill on its vision of Intercloud.

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