These are exciting times at Cisco as we continue our journey in the world of many clouds. Our recent announcement, made at this year’s Partner Summit in Las Vegas about the expansion of Cisco’s Cloud strategy, might have you wondering: What does this all mean?

H ere we talk to Nick Earle, Cisco’s newly appointed lead for Worldwide Cloud Sales and GTM, to find out more about the Intercloud, why it is unique and how it will help Cisco, our customers, and our partners going forward.

Q: Nick, this sounds like exciting news for Cisco. What exactly is the Intercloud, and why are we now doing this?

A: It is very exciting. Today, we see CIOs embracing cloud so that they can more cost-effectively and flexibly deliver business applications and services. To capitalize on this, Cisco is building the world’s largest global Intercloud which, put simply, is a network of clouds. Crucially, we will be building this with a set of partners, which is one of the main reasons we decided to make the announcement at Partner Summit. This global network of clouds represents the next phase in cloud computing, and is a primary enabler of the Internet of Everything (IoE) and a fundamental part of our strategy going forward.

Cisco is doing what we do best: combining our innovative technology, global reach, and strength of our partnerships to provide our customers with cloud services built for high-performance workloads and making sure they are scalable, reliable, and secure.

Q: What makes the Cisco global Intercloud unique?

A: Four things help us to stand out. First, we are building this together with our partners. Second, by using the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), we can optimize application performance and make rolling out new services much faster. Third, the Intercloud fabric is a differentiator in that it allows cloud workloads to be federated between many different public cloud offerings. Finally, this is about value and differentiation at the application level: we are not following AWS on a “race to zero” with commoditized IaaS offerings.

Q: Surely this is a big investment for us?

A: It is, and we expect to spend more than $1 billion over the next two years. We are investing in an expanded suite of value-added application and network-centric cloud services to accelerate the Internet of Everything, as well as making go-to-market investments to extend the Cisco Powered GTM program. This will also enable a more comprehensive suite of Cisco Cloud Services to be offered by a global network of Cisco and partner data centers.

In addition, we expect to see a rapid acceleration of investment from partners to drive the global scale and breadth of services that we are planning on delivering to our customers.

Q: You mentioned partners and that they are critical to our cloud strategy. Have any signed up?

A: Yes, we absolutely need our partners onboard, and this announcement means that we are enhancing and broadening channel choice. Partners of all sizes will be able to monetize Cisco Cloud Services in many ways, including resale and value-added extensions through services and/or software.

A number of partners either are planning to deliver Cisco Cloud Services or have already endorsed Cisco’s global Intercloud initiative. For example, leading Australian service provider Telstra joined me at Partner Summit to host a press and analyst session because they already recognize the huge benefits that cloud can deliver. Further details about our Cloud Strategy and additional partners will be shared at Cisco Live in San Francisco in May.

Q: Your new role is SVP, WW Cloud Sales and Go-to-Market. How will we sell?

A: While Cisco will sell these new cloud services through channel partners, we will also sell directly to end customers. There is a huge opportunity for everyone. We are confident that Intercloud will expand the addressable market for both Cisco and our partners and be a primary factor in incremental growth going forward.

Q: Who are the primary competitors for Cisco Cloud Services, and what makes Cisco different?

A: The primary cloud offerings today are either commoditized IaaS solutions or “walled garden” proprietary approaches, and none of them was designed to optimize the channel. The Cisco Intercloud is unique in its approach and so is clearly differentiated from anything else in the market.

Q: Where can we learn more?

A: There is a lot of information on CEC, and both Rob Lloyd and I have recently written blogs on the subject. I will soon be sharing more news about my organization, but our next major milestone will be at Cisco Live in May, where more specific details will be shared. Watch this space.

I have already subscribed