How Cisco's Piston acquisition will improve Intercloud

The Piston Cloud Computing acquisition will help Cisco execute its Intercloud strategy.

Digital transformation has become a hot topic with business and IT leaders. Unleashing the power of a digital business requires IT to think and operate differently, which is why so many organizations have turned to the cloud. The cloud has fundamentally changed technology by making IT more agile at a much lower cost.

When it comes to the cloud, though, few organizations are going to be "all in" with either public or private cloud. In fact, the 2015 ZK Research Infrastructure Spending Survey revealed that about 80% of organizations will shift to a hybrid cloud model where private and public clouds will be integrated together and co-exist (disclosure: I am an employee of ZK Research).

The evolution of the cloud from being a set of discrete cloud islands to a world of interconnected cloud is the model that is driving Cisco's Intercloud vision. Think of Intercloud as being a set of globally interconnected clouds where information, applications, and other data are free to move back and forth between the various clouds.

While Intercloud is a great vision of the future, the path to it may not be obvious to most. To help customers make this transition, Cisco this morning announced its intention to acquire privately held Piston Cloud Computing. The company is relatively young, founded in 2011 and based in San Francisco.

Piston is a small, only 38 people, so I wouldn't be surprised if most people reading this had never heard of them. Piston Cloud has an OpenStack distribution and control platform called "CloudOS" that enables streamlined operations of large-scale distributed systems. In many ways, Intercloud is a massive distributed system.

Piston Cloud compliments Cisco's 2014 acquisition of Metacloud quite nicely. Metacloud is also an OpenStack-based cloud platform, but it is focused more on private clouds. Metacloud is very good at operating OpenStack clouds as a service, but where the hardware is on-premise.

Piston Cloud's distributed systems and OpenStack talent will enable Cisco to advance its capabilities around cloud automation, availability, and scale. Also, Piston's competency around distributed systems and automated deployment will help Cisco beef up its cloud delivery capabilities for both its customers and its Intercloud partners.

The world today is certainly moving to the cloud, but it exists as a set of standalone clouds. The next step in this journey is to bridge these islands. Intercloud is designed to deliver secure cloud services in every region of the globe. Metacloud and now Piston Cloud are great acquisitions to give Cisco customers the choice to consume cloud services from a trusted Intercloud provider to complement any private cloud deployment. The combination of Metacloud and Piston allows Cisco to deliver cloud in any format that its customers or partners may want.

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