Google and Cisco are the latest tech companies to join forces in an effort to knock Amazon off its spot at the top of the enterprise cloud services heap. Under the partnership, announced today, Google will combine its cloud services and technologies with Cisco's networking and security software and hardware to create a hybrid cloud offering for businesses.
The new service is designed to help organizations develop, deploy, and manage applications seamlessly and consistently, whether they're based on premises or in the cloud. The Google-Cisco hybrid solution, yet to be named, is expected to become available to a limited number of customers sometime in the first part of 2018. A general rollout is scheduled for later next year.
Amazon Web Services currently dominates the market for cloud-based infrastructure services, while Microsoft's Azure occupies the number-two position, according to recent figures from the Synergy Research Group. Following those leaders in third and fourth place are IBM and Google, respectively.
Addressing 'Tough Operational Challenges'
Rather than manage all of their IT services on premises, or take them all into the cloud, many companies today choose to do a bit of both. This hybrid cloud approach allows organizations to combine the advantages of both in-house and as-a-service approaches, but managing such deployments can prove challenging.
"While hybrid is here to stay, that's not to say that it's easy," Kip Compton, Cisco's vice president of cloud platform and solutions, wrote in a blog post. "There are significant differences between public and private clouds, and it's hard to write applications that can move easily between these environments, let alone provide a consistent experience for developers."
For example, developers might want to create and test new applications in public cloud environments, but then deploy them via their companies' private clouds, Compton said.
"While just about everyone knows that they need hybrid cloud capabilities, it's not been easy, especially for organizations who want an open approach that can extend to work with multiple public clouds," he said.
By combining their companies' offerings into one hybrid cloud offering, Google and Cisco hope to provide a solution to such challenges that doesn't lock users into a single vendor's solution, added Nan Boden, head of global technology partners for Google Cloud.
"This partnership to enhance existing on-premises infrastructure and extend it to the cloud addresses tough operational problems that enterprises have traditionally struggled to solve," Boden wrote today on the Google blog. "It also takes advantage of Cisco's best-of-breed capabilities, including the ability to extend Cisco's network and security policies and configurations and monitor application behavior across hybrid cloud environments."
Components 'Tailored to Needs'
Cisco and Google said their new hybrid cloud offering will provide tools for orchestration and management, networking, security, network and application performance monitoring, and automation. The solution will also offer open-source service management via Istio, a microservices development and management offering released earlier this year by Google, IBM, and Lyft.
In addition, the hybrid cloud solution will make use of the Google-developed Kubernetes for containerized application management, as well as the API management system that Google acquired with its $625 million purchase of the firm Apigee last year.
Under its partnership with Google, Cisco will provide a variety of hybrid cloud tools for developers via its DevNet developer network, including educational tools and a sandbox environment for application development and testing.
Boden said a number of components "can be tailored to the needs of each customer, purchased together or separately." Google's cloud services will be available on a pay-as-you-go basis, while Cisco software can be licensed under one-, three-, or five-year subscriptions. Cisco also plans to offer financing solutions for the hardware components of the hybrid cloud solution.