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Cisco as managed services provider?

Cisco promises it won’t be the next Amazon EC2. Really.

Execs have repeatedly said this year that the company would not become a hosted applications or infrastructure provider. Instead, they say Cisco will sell equipment for enterprise private clouds and carrier-based public clouds. But last week, Light Reading reported that Cisco will sell hosted managed services from its own data center for telecom operators to resell them to SMBs. That’s only borderline public cloud, right?

Cisco spokespeople said the company is not “quite ready to go public on this” and would return with more information when possible. According to reports, Cisco’s new SmartOps program will provide remote network and applications management to be white labeled by telecom operators aiming to get into the SMB market.

There are, of course, a few issues here. For one thing, Cisco’s much prized partner channel is filled with managed services providers (MSPs) that often serve SMBs. These smaller channel partners already struggle to compete with the likes of AT&T and other operators that have more money and resources. Will this make Cisco their competitor as well as their provider?

What’s more, Cisco is in the process of reorganizing its business in light of sagging financial performance and weak sales outlook. Part of this reorganization aimed to dump consumer-oriented businesses, including the Flip camera division and refocus on core networking technology innovation and sales. What’s to say moving into managed services will help with this reorganization?

Finally – and maybe most important to network engineers – when the largest and most successful networking vendor becomes a managed services provider, is this a sign that the cloud really will make your jobs obsolete?

We’ll stay tuned for details.

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By "We'll stay tuned for details." did you intend to say that we all would watch out for results in the future because the article is inconclusive, or did you intend to imply that you would follow up later on this story with details (say, 3 years later) and a conclusion on the impact of this effort?