Google and Cisco have teamed up in the cloud wars against Amazon and Microsoft

Diane GreeneBusiness InsiderGoogle Cloud CEO Diane Greene
  • Google and Cisco have signed a technology partnership that will make it easier for Cisco customers to move their applications and data into the Google Cloud platform.
  • The deal gives Google inroads with Cisco’s large enterprise customers, by helping them bridge their existing data center technology with the Google Cloud, in a model called “hybrid cloud.”
  • The move is especially aggressive towards the Microsoft Azure cloud, which prides itself on its hybrid cloud capabilities. Google is still considered the third-place cloud platform, behind Amazon and Microsoft.

Google Cloud has signed a partnership with Cisco to bridge their two technological worlds, in a bid to catch up with Amazon Web Services and its domination of the fast-growing cloud computing market.

Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies are investing in ways for Cisco customers to easily bring their applications and data from their existing data centres up into the Google Cloud. For Cisco, it’s the first cloud computing partnership of this type that the company has ever signed.

These tech titans have something to offer each other: Google Cloud gets better access to Cisco customers, helping further its ambitions of conquering the enterprise as it jockeys to move up from its third-place position in the cloud wars. And Cisco gets to offer its customers an easy way to take advantage of Google’s scale and cutting-edge tech.

“We believe we can take advantage of each others’ ecosystems,” Cisco exec Fabio Gori tells Business Insider.

Google, for its part, is considered a “public cloud” in industry parlance, meaning customers can pay as they go for practically unlimited supercomputing power. Once in the cloud, Google offers developers a whole range of cutting-edge services, everything from artificial intelligence, to massive planet-spanning databases.

Some customers face tricky legal hurdles

The problem is that not every company is willing or able to embrace those cloud benefits: Some companies in regulated industries like healthcare or finance may come up against legal hurdles that slow down the migration to the cloud; many more just don’t want to abandon their existing investments in data centres and other technologies.

That’s led to something called the “hybrid cloud,” the idea of bridging existing servers with the cloud, so companies can find the balance that works for them. Hybrid cloud is the stock-in-trade of Microsoft, especially, which has used its existing inroads with products like Windows Server as an on-ramp for its Windows Azure cloud.

Cisco CEO Chuck RobbinsBusiness InsiderCisco CEO Chuck Robbins

Google has invested heavily in filling in that gap for itself. A lot of the search giant’s venture capital cash is going towards hybrid cloud startups, and Google Cloud is signing partnerships with companies like VMware to boost its hybrid capabilities. The goal is to make it easier for would-be hybrid customers to go Google.

No end in sight

“It’s a very complex hybrid world out there for most of our customers,” says Google Cloud partnership head Nan Boden.

Cisco is Google’s latest such partnership, and it makes sense: The $US171 billion networking company is a major force in enterprise technology, with customers in the Fortune 500 and well beyond. And yet, Cisco lacks a public cloud platform of its own, with its $US1 billion Intercloud project shutting down earlier this year amid pressure from AWS.

The deal won’t change the landscape immediately: Google is still widely considered the third-place player in the cloud computing wars. And Amazon and Microsoft are both growing as fast as ever. But Google’s deal with Cisco shows it’s getting aggressive about chasing the valuable Fortune 500 customers — and that means the cloud wars are far from finished.

Get the latest Cisco stock price here.

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