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Cisco Data Center Anywhere: Beyond Multi-Cloud Management

Multi-cloud management is all the rage. Software companies are racing to launch cloud management tools that extend across Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and plenty more.

So how can technology companies rise above all that noise? In Cisco Systems’ case, the answer involves Data Center Anywhere. The concept: Build tools, platforms and integrations that allow customers to move and manage data anywhere they want, in any data center that they want.

Cisco captures the entire strategy in this graphic:

Or as Nirav Sheth, Cisco’s VP of partner solutions, architectures & engineering puts it:

“Customers can now enjoy multicloud and edge access that’s designed to handle any workload, in any location, and with any cloud formation. By moving data centers closer to the apps on the ground, we’re also opening the door to interpreting data in real time. This lets customers to do more, which means you deliver greater value. Data Center Anywhere is now achievable at scale for your mid-sized customers to large global enterprises.”

Cisco Data Center Anywhere: Related Technologies

That sounds simple enough. But the technical underpinnings can get quite complex. To support the Data Center Anywhere vision, Cisco is introducing tools and technologies across networking, hyperconvergence, security and automation. The lineup, the company says, includes:

  • The expansion of ACI into the cloud with AWS and Microsoft Azure environments. (Actually, I think that was announced back in August 2017.)
  • The extension of HyperFlex into branch offices and remote locations to power applications at the edge.
  • Enhancements to CloudCenter to help customers manage the lifecycle of applications across multiple cloud environments.
  • A new, single Enterprise Agreement to make it easier for customers to buy and manage the technology across the entire data center architecture, Cisco says.

Cisco Subscription Services, Multi-Tenant MSP Dashboards

In some ways, Cisco Data Center Anywhere reinforces the company’s march toward subscription services — allowing partners and customers to pay as they go, instead of paying lump fees right up front.

Cisco VP Nirav Sheth

Of the major enterprise IT hardware suppliers — Cisco, Dell Technologies, HP Enterprise and IBM — I believe Cisco has been the most consistent advocate of recurring revenue opportunities for partners. Subscription services, naturally, drive those recurring revenue opportunities. But that’s not enough.

Cisco and its rivals must also ensure that all IT management tools have multi-tenant designs — allowing MSPs to manage multiple customer systems from a single dashboard.

Cisco is making progress on that multi-tenant future for MSPs. Down in the SMB sector, the company has been working with ConnectWise to empower MSPs. Up in the enterprise and global service provider markets, offerings like AppDynamics are making progress with MSPs.

Still, there’s more room for improvement on the MSP front. Not all of Cisco’s IT management tools are multi-tenant, though the company is gradually moving its various code bases in that direction.

Plus, CEO Chuck Robbins continues to rally the company around recurring revenues — and now the Data Center Anywhere strategy. Those are the right messages for partners. The growing focus on multi-tenant systems? That’s exactly the right next step.

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