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Cisco closing Intercloud Fabric in cloud strategy shift

Cisco is in the process of moving customers off the Intercloud Fabric as the company prepares to close the infrastructure-as-a-service offering.

Cisco will soon shutter Intercloud -- the one-time foundation of the company's cloud strategy.

Cisco said this week in an emailed statement that it was in the process of moving customers from the Intercloud Fabric to other platforms that provide infrastructure as a service (IaaS). The company declined to say when Intercloud would cease to exist.

"Cisco has internally communicated that we are discontinuing one of our internal cloud platforms and will be transitioning affected workloads onto other platforms," the statement said. "We do not expect any material customer issues as a result of this transition."

According to an internal memo obtained by tech site The Register, Cisco planned to have customers off the Intercloud Fabric by March 31, 2017, The Register reported. Cisco planned to shut down the service on that date.

Launched in 2014, Intercloud failed in the public cloud market despite Cisco's commitment to invest $1 billion. The company planned to provide cloud-based infrastructure services on top of an extensive network of data centers that included its own and those of third-party providers. Cisco used open source software called OpenStack as the foundation of the IaaS platform.

Intercloud skeptics

From the start, Intercloud failed to win over IT pros. Many were unclear of the value of the Intercloud Fabric and wondered whether Cisco was entering the market too late. By 2014, Amazon Web Services (AWS) was the clear market leader while Microsoft Azure was growing rapidly. Amazon launched AWS in 2002, and Microsoft unveiled Azure in 2009.

"Customers are looking at cloud offerings that are easy to use and have the momentum," said Larry Carvalho, an analyst at IDC. "It seems like Amazon, Microsoft and Google [Cloud] are taking the lead there."

Cisco's shift away from Intercloud started in September when the company said it would focus on helping customers manage and orchestrate workloads across multicloud environments. At the time, Cisco said the Intercloud Fabric would remain in its portfolio.

"Cisco's strong suit is networking and all the functionality they provide," Carvalho said. "Security around networking would still be their value add and differentiator for customers [with hybrid clouds].

To support its new strategy, Cisco introduced professional services and enhancements to its CloudCenter software. The CloudCenter upgrade used technology from CliQr Technologies Inc., which Cisco acquired in March for $260 million.

CliQr software lets companies deploy and manage applications running on bare-metal servers, virtual machines or containers, all of which are found in cloud environments.

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