Cisco announced today that it plans to spend $1 billion over the next two years to create a cloud computing platform to compete with rival players like Amazon and Microsoft. The company calls it a “Global Intercloud,” and it’s designed to allow users to unify features of Cisco’s existing private cloud solutions with public cloud infrastructure.
The company won’t be building its cloud alone, though. While some of its offerings will be based from its own data centers, Cisco is working on forging partnerships with other companies to provide data centers around the world that it can use to provide managed cloud services.
The move will put Cisco into direct competition with other platforms like Amazon Web Services and Windows Azure. The increasing popularity of those public cloud solutions has put pressure on Cisco’s business, because it’s easy for administrators to create systems on AWS or Azure without having to roll out more hardware.
Cisco does have an advantage in the cloud market, though: organizations that already rely on Cisco solutions for their existing infrastructure will have an easier time integrating its cloud offerings. The partner model also means that companies concerned about storing data outside their home country’s borders–an increasing concern following leaks about NSA surveillance–can know that their information is being stored outside the U.S.
Still, AWS and Azure are popular and growing services. Cisco has waited a long time to jump into the market, and this move could be too little, too late to pull users away from their competition.