Cisco Draws a 4 Tier Map of the Clouds and the Future of Cloud Computing

The Four Tiers of Cloud Computing according to Cisco.

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[Excerpt: from the Register: Cisco cuddles all clouds but one]

Clouds mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Warrior explained that Cisco sees cloud computing as having four tiers. The lower tier is an IT foundation, including servers, storage, and networking, and that the whole point of UCS was to be a player for infrastructure. In this area, Cisco plans to compete with IBM and Hewlett-Packard as well as partner with EMC, VMware, Microsoft, and others.

The next tier up is what Warrior referred to as infrastructure as a service, which means selling cloud computing capacity like Amazon does with its EC2 compute utility and S3 and EBS storage utilities. Warrior showed a slide that pegged Amazon, AT&T, BT, HP, IBM, Sun Microsystems Oracle, Savvis, Telstra, and Terremark as the key suppliers so far. And Cisco will not be one of them, even though it must be tempting to build a cloud at cost and sell capacity on it.

Now, taking a step up in the abstraction layer of Cisco’s cloud computing model is something Warrior called platform as a service, and this is really providing cloud infrastructure with software development frameworks that allow companies to deploy applications. This is more like Google App Engine, Windows Azure, and certain parts of Amazon Web Services, and in Cisco’s case, the application framework is WebEx Connect, which is evolving from the online Web meeting platform of the early 2000s into a collaboration framework with APIs for integrating other applications into the Web conferencing, chat, and collaboration tools that can be mashed up as IT organizations see fit.

The top and final tier of the cloudy world that Cisco is helping us all build is software as a service, and here, Cisco absolutely has plans to be a player alongside Microsoft,, and Google. Up here, WebEx will be the brand. WebEx Mail, a mail and calendaring service based upon the PostPath acquisition from last summer, will be added to the WebEx mix and delivered as a service atop Cisco’s own cloud infrastructure. Dennerline said that WebEx is hosting 220,000 meetings per day and over 4 billion meeting minutes per month and that this was supported from nine data centers around the globe. He added that there are over 450 million knowledge workers on the planet and that the collaboration software and services space would comprise about $34bn in sales and that “we certainly don’t have our fair share yet” of that space. As for how Cisco will get its fair share, it’s the same old mantra: build, buy, and partner.

I think that’s a pretty good demarcation of the space.

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