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Technology / Cloud

Amidst private cloud rumours, Cisco is betting big on a hybrid future

The US networking giant has shot down reports of a new private cloud service. What is clear is it has plans to embrace the hybrid cloud.

Cisco has denied reports that it is planning a private cloud subscription service for businesses having second thoughts about their public cloud deployments. The US networking giant says it instead plans to continue building out its hybrid cloud offering, making it the latest IT vendor to bet big on cloud’s hybrid future.

Cisco cloud strategy
Cisco has denied reports it is planning a new private cloud subscription service. (Photo by Anucha Cheechang/Shutterstock)

The plans for a new private cloud service, known as Cisco Cloud Stack, were reported on Friday by The Information, which claimed Cisco wants to offer an alternative for businesses becoming fed up with the high cost of public cloud platforms such as Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft Azure. The service would help repatriate workloads to private data centres, as well as managing hardware and software for companies that want to outsource their infrastructure, according to sources said to be familiar with the plan, which is thought to have been in the works for a year.

A Cisco spokesman shot down the story, saying: “At this time we are not planning to offer a solution to specifically repatriate cloud apps and any suggestion otherwise is inaccurate. We are focused on hybrid cloud tooling across public and private infrastructures.”

Is there an opportunity for Cisco in cloud repatriation?

Despite Cisco’s public denials, the company may have spotted an opportunity to cater for companies having second thoughts about their cloud deployments. As reported by Tech Monitor earlier this year, 72% of companies polled in Virtana’s State of Hybrid Cloud 2021 report said they moved workloads back from the public cloud onto private servers. The report’s authors said it was “evident that these organisations are drastically misjudging the impact of migrating their applications and workloads to the public cloud environment.”

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While it is often assumed that using public cloud providers will help businesses save money, this is not always the case, and the complexity of the pricing structures used by companies such as AWS can make it difficult for businesses to control their spending. Indeed, AWS often comes under fire for its opaque approach to pricing, and cloud architect and AWS expert Forrest Brazeal told Tech Monitor in June "I personally believe that AWS has the most confusing billing of any cloud provider, and the lowest amount of flexibility to control your spend".

Businesses polled in Virtana's survey also said they have better oversight of what is running on their private cloud than on public servers.

Cisco cloud strategy: another hybrid approach

Cisco's stated interest in the hybrid cloud should come as no surprise, given that rivals HPE and Dell both offer hybrid packages to their customers, HPE Greenlake and Dell Apex. These services allow customers to manage deployments across multiple public and private cloud servers from one place.

Roy Illsley, chief analyst at research company Omdia, told Tech Monitor something similar from Cisco could be on the cards. "I would expect Cisco to have some sort of flexible cloud-like offering," he says. "Dell has Apex and HPE has Greenlake, so why not Cisco."

Cisco announced plans to ramp up its 'as-a-service' offering earlier this year when it unveiled Cisco Plus, a network-as-a-service package which will eventually offer compute, storage and networking hardware on a consumption basis, and will incorporate hybrid cloud services. An initial limited release has already started, and it is expected to become more widely available later this year.

Illsley said that while he had not been briefed on any plans Cisco has for the private cloud, a hybrid approach makes sense. "Our data shows that between 2020 and 2022 hybrid cloud use will increase by 18%," he says. "I think private cloud will still have a place but increasingly the hybrid approach is seen as how organisations can retain some control and apply its rules and working practices, while also using the public cloud when it is the best option."

Matthew Gooding

News editor

Matthew Gooding is news editor for Tech Monitor.