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Cisco Taps Microsoft Azure for Its Cloud Partner Program

Microsoft and Cisco on Wednesday announced a joint effort aimed at letting Cisco's cloud service provider partners easily access Microsoft Azure cloud computing resources.

The new "Cisco Cloud Architecture for the Microsoft Cloud Platform" provides "pre-packaged policy management libraries" that Cisco partners can use to simplify the deployment of "new apps and services" when accessing Microsoft's Azure cloud computing resources, according to the announcement from Cisco.

Cisco currently has over 60 partners centered on its Intercloud effort, which is based on the OpenStack cloud architecture. First announced in January 2014, Intercloud offers solutions for cloud service providers and is supposed to make it easier for them to deliver public, private and hybrid cloud computing services.

The new technology integration effort with Microsoft announced on Wednesday will expand on Cisco's Intercloud effort by facilitating partner use of Microsoft's proprietary Azure infrastructure. Specifically, the two companies are integrating the Windows Azure Pack, Microsoft's collection of technologies for cloud-enabling Windows Server 2012 R2, with Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). Microsoft first joined Cisco's ACI effort, which provides open APIs for network operations such as management, monitoring, storage and virtualization, back in 2013.

The new platform developed by Cisco and Microsoft will facilitate matters for Cisco's cloud service provider partners, according to Aziz Benmalek, general manager of Microsoft's Hosting Service Provider business.

"Because the application and infrastructure policies will be pre-configured and in an application policy library in Windows Azure Pack, service providers will be able deploy new services and applications with much greater speed," Benmalek explained in a blog post.

The effort involves "integrating the Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) directly into the Windows Azure Pack," explained Kit Beal, vice president for the Cloud and Managed Services Partner Organization at Cisco, in another blog post. Beal recounted that Microsoft's partnership with Cisco extends to integrating System Center and PowerShell management tools, as well, which enables Cisco's cloud service partners to more quickly set up tenants and establish backup and recovery services

"The result of our joint engineering work enables operational simplicity and control via streamlined integration between Microsoft System Center and our Cisco UCS [Unified Computing System] server platform," Beal explained.

The two companies previously had established a partnership supporting Cisco's management tools. Back in July, Cisco and Microsoft announced a three-year agreement that included integrating System Center modules into the Cisco UCS Manager product, which is used to manage UCS hardware and software components. That partnership effort also added support for Windows Server 2003 migrations, facilitating customer moves to Windows Server 2012 R2 housed on Cisco UCS infrastructure.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.