Cisco Execs Plumb The Limits Of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing has become the all-purpose buzzword of business computing -- it can mean pretty much whatever you want it to mean, but every product better have some cloud in it. Networking giant Cisco has totally bought in to the concept, but a couple of top execs also described what they see as limits on how far pure cloud computing will spread.

In a drab conference room out by Oakland Airport (the company's planned Zeppelin excursion to highlight its cloud product launch was scrubbed by bad weather) Cisco's Murali Sitaram (VP/GM Cloud Collaboration Applications) and Lew Tucker (VP, CTO Cloud Computing) explained the company's approach as they introduced additions to Cisco's Cloudverse family.

Instead of just offering its own products on a hosted basis, Cisco's approach is to work with telecom carriers, large enterprises and resellers to help them offer collaboration-and-communication-as-a-service.

The idea, Sitaram said, is to leverage Cisco's partners to provide services without having to become a carrier itself -- which is a daunting, heavily regulated proposition in many parts of the world. "We don't want to be in the carrier business, but we do want to provide services through partners."

Those services include expanding Ciscos Hosted Collaboration Solution to include TelePresence, Customer Collaboration (contact centers), unified communications and mobility. It also means letting large customers install the company's WebEx online Web conferencing solution in their own data centers.

That may not gibe with most people's definition of cloud computing, but according to Sitaram, many customers still demand more control over their services, either because they're in a highly sensitive industry like the military, health care or financial services, or because they're in emerging markets with restrictive regulations and unreliable public infrastructure.

"It's not easy to deliver cloud-based services" to countries like China, India, Russia and South America, Sitaram said, "especially from the United States." Besides, "the cloud isn't just Facebook and Salesforce," Sitaram added. "If you peel the onion, there are just so many nuances."

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Cisco Execs Plumb The Limits Of Cloud Computing

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