Cisco Systems (CSCO) has made a significant change to its data center strategy, and in so doing, the company's cloud focus has become much more applications-centric. Announced at Cisco Live! in Orlando, Fla., this week, Cisco unveiled a new data center networking architecture that, according to the company, better addresses the demands of "new and current" applications in the cloud era.

Rob Lloyd, president of Development and Sales at Cisco, and Edzard Overbeek, senior vice president of Services at Cisco, laid out the foundation of how Cisco is changing its data center strategy. The gist: Cisco is shifting to an application-centric infrastructure that it expects will provide IT with the ability to rapidly deliver business applications to end users due to a simpler operational model, scalable and secure infrastructure and optimized costs.

According to Cisco, its strategy shift requires an open, programmable and automated infrastructure ready to handle challenges presented by cloud deployment models and Big Data applications. That's a lot of marketing buzz, but the new strategy breaks down like this:

  • Any workload, anywhere—application deployment time will be reduced via fully automated and programmatic network infrastructure.
  • A common open platform for physical, virtual and cloud infrastructure that provides complete integration across physical and virtual applications, normalizing endpoint access while delivering software flexibility and hardware performance, scale and visibility across multi-vendor virtualized, bare metal, distributed scale-out and cloud applications (certainly a mouthful).
  • A holistic, simplified approach with the integration of infrastructure, services and security coupled with real-time telemetry and extensibility to future services.
  • A common policy management framework and operational model driving automation across network, security and application teams that is extensible to compute and storage in the future.
  • Support of a broad ecosystem of partners empowered by a comprehensive published set of open APIs.
  • A balanced approach that provides a faster rate of innovation and customer adoption while enabling a future-proofed migration to application-centric infrastructure. The result is optimized price, performance, density, security and power while providing investment protection for existing cabling plants. As customers migrate to 40G today and 100G in the future, this approach allows them to optimize both their capital and operational expenditures, according to Cisco.

As long as Cisco's strategy continues to be focused on enabling partners rather than competing with them, this seems like a sound strategy. Cisco's moves are continuing in a direction that will generate revenue opportunities for Cisco VARs and service providers developing cloud platforms and services on the company's technology.