Cisco integrator CompuNet skills up for a hybrid cloud world

As the networking giant seeks to become the bridge between on-premises infrastructure, and private/public cloud solutions, the company's VARs and solution providers are managing this convergence.

Like all legacy enterprise IT companies with a big footprint in data centers, Cisco Systems is preparing for a future in which more of its customers will source their applications in multiple ways -- from on-premise equipment, private cloud infrastructure and public cloud services. The company's story line is that this hybrid approach will be crucial for the "Internet of Everything" era.

This isn't exactly new, but at an event in Italy last week for its VARs, integrators and other channel partners, the company detailed its latest products and services for helping make this happen: the latest installment of its Application Centric Infrastructure principles. ZDNet Editorial Director Larry Dignan provides a synopsis of what's new , including Cisco's new hybrid cloud management concept called InterCloud. In simple terms, this is a suite of technology for helping manage combined on-premise and cloud infrastructure more holistically, as an integrated whole rather than as different siloes.

In a blog post, Cisco's senior vice president of worldwide channels, Edison Peres, talks about how Cisco's evolving strategy for enabling well-orchestrated hybrid infrastructure will affect the company's various channel partners -- which offers some insight into how businesses will see these Cisco-certified consulting partners adapt in the future. Here's an excerpt:

Cisco Cloud Builders will have a twofold services opportunity. They can implement Cisco Intercloud software into private clouds to enable them to connect more easily to public clouds, and they can implement the software into their own public cloud offering or third-party public clouds.

For the Cisco Cloud Resellers, there are new revenue opportunities for Hybrid IT and opportunities to change the conversation with your customers. There is value in the ability to rationalizing cloud for the customer. When and how do they use cloud in their business? Should they utilize public, private or hybrid cloud? What are the best offers for each area? What is ultimately the best solution for their business?

One long-time Cisco partner that has already spent a substantial amount of time considering these issues strategically is CompuNet, based in Boise, Idaho, with about 80 employees spread throughout the Northwest in Montana, Utah, Washington and, most recently, Oregon.

In existence since 1998, CompuNet is a high-level partner with Cisco, VMware, EMC, Citrix, Microsoft and APC (part of Schneider Electric). Given its skill set, the integrator has been training its engineers to have discussions about private cloud options for some time. In more recent years, however, CompuNet has forged a series of partnerships to handle their clients' cloud needs: the theory is that these partners can help provide these services more quickly, without putting an undue burden on CompuNet's technical resources. "100 percent of our customers are assessing cloud," said Luke Lesh, business development manager for cloud services with CompuNet, in Portland, Ore. "It's a convergence that we're trying to manage for the customer."

Gregg Pruett, senior vice president of CompuNet, said that his company has taken a careful approach to forging partnerships with cloud services companies that amplify its existing skills -- most of the ones it offers are "powered by Cisco" technology in some way. "Our choice was to take a head-on approach and figure out whether or not the best option for each client was on-premises, the cloud, or both," he said.

As an example, the company forged an international deal with Xerox to deliver Hosted Collaboration Services that are based on Cisco's collaboration technology platforms. Likewise, its various infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) offerings build on Unified Computing System architecture: its partners here are Involta, Viawest, PeakColo and Xerox.

Many of CompuNet's customers are exploring cloud services as a way to keep internal IT teams focused on strategic functions, rather than having to worry about management of aging technology and licenses, or add new staff. "All of our customers are asking the question," Pruett said.

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