Cisco has also faced stiffening competition from rivals like the software maker VMware, which announced a partnership with Amazon last year.
Cisco and Google executives vowed to offer something different. They said companies have been struggling with the fact that they need separate tools to manage software on their own premises and those running in the cloud, a situation that sometimes causes security problems. By combining Google programming technology and Cisco networking and security software, they said, tech managers can create and manage software that can run securely in or outside their companies data centers.
The idea, said Urs Hlzle, Googles senior vice president for technical infrastructure, is to close those security gaps.
Cloud computing has been roiling the strategies of older tech companies for much of the past decade. The concept, besides letting customers sidestep the costs of buying hardware and software, can let companies deploy computing resources more quickly and flexibly.
Amazon Web Services pioneered the concept. Synergy Research Group, a market research firm, said in July that A.W.S. accounted for 34 percent of the roughly $11 billion spent on such cloud services in the second quarter, compared with 11 percent for Microsoft, 8 percent for IBM and 5 percent for Google. Amazon and Microsoft are expected to highlight progress in their cloud businesses when they report quarterly earnings on Thursday.
Google has moved aggressively to catch up. In late 2015, the company gave the job of running its cloud business to Diane Greene, a widely respected Silicon Valley entrepreneur who helped make VMwares technology a mainstay at many corporations.
She made a series of organizational changes, recruited new talent and introduced new technology features. In one important move, Google in September 2016 bought the start-up Apigee Corporation for $625 million, adding capabilities to help customers connect their operations with online services operated by others.
More mature technology companies have taken different tacks to try to hold on to customers. Some, like IBM and Oracle, offer their own cloud services. Others, like Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Dell Technologies, have shied away from engaging in a spending war in data centers against deep-pocketed internet giants.
So has Cisco. The company, based in San Jose, Calif., promoted a concept called intercloud that amounted to coordinating a federation of cloud services operated by partners.
But Cisco dropped that approach last year, choosing instead to help customers manage hybrid cloud arrangements industry parlance for using a blend of operations in a companys own data centers and those operated by a growing number of cloud services.
We think we are one of the few companies that can navigate this multi-cloud world, said David Goeckeler, executive vice president and general manager of Ciscos networking and security business.
The company has broadly signaled plans to rely more on software and services than on sales of networking hardware, aided frequently by acquisitions. On Monday, for example, Cisco said it would pay $1.9 billion for BroadSoft, which sells online communications services.
Other companies also have embraced the hybrid cloud concept. Microsoft, for example, has longtime ties with corporate software buyers and has come up with ways to run new cloud applications in its data centers or on customers premises, said Al Gillen, an analyst at the research firm IDC.
We see other vendors doing things to compete since what we have is so strong and so unique, said Julia White, a corporate vice president with Microsofts Azure cloud business.
VMware, a subsidiary of Dell, was first known for software technology called virtualization that allows more efficient use of servers but now competes with Cisco with networking software. Russ Currie, a vice president of enterprise strategy at the network monitoring specialist NetScout Systems, said VMware was effectively using its cloud alliance with A.W.S. to court customers. Pat Gelsinger, VMwares chief executive, called the announcement from Google and Cisco a validation of his own companys vision.
Cisco also cooperates in various ways with A.W.S. and Microsoft in cloud computing. But Mr. Goeckeler said that the Google relationship was particularly potent because of the technological specialties of each company.
We are both users of each others products, said Mr. Hlzle of Google. But in this case, this is about working together to give their customers the technology they want, he said.
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