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Cisco's Intercloud initiative for an open, hybrid cloud, announced at the vendor's Partner Summit conference in March, continues to gain momentum with the announcement today of new technology bundles, an expansion of the Cisco Intercloud partner ecosystem, and $1 billion in financing so that partners can build cloud infrastructure. Intercloud is intended to link together Cisco's own data centers with private and public cloud resources.

That $1 billion in financing is in addition to the $1 billion Cisco said -- when it kicked off the Intercloud plan earlier this year -- it would invest $1 billion to build its expanded cloud business over the next two years.

There are several partner roles in the vendor's Intercloud ecosystem -- Cloud Builder, for those that build private clouds; Intercloud Provider, for those that build partner-branded public clouds using Cisco technology; Channel Partner or Reseller, for those that resell services from Cisco Intercloud Providers; and the newly named Aggregator, for distributors. The company is actively recruiting application/SaaS partners to write their applications on Intercloud.

Edison Peres, senior vice president of Cloud and Managed Services with the Partner Organization at Cisco, stated that partners could play multiple roles in the world of cloud. "We allow our partners to monetize a rich cloud world by playing different roles," he said, adding that Cisco's job is to help partners distinguish between the different roles, understand the different business models and enable practices in their chosen roles to drive success.

As part of today's announcement, Cisco will be adding more than 30 new Providers, Aggregators and Builders. The Providers represent about 250 data centers across 50 countries and help expand the reach and ability to bring Intercloud to the marketplace. The private cloud Builders enable Intercloud-ready private cloud and, according to Peres, Cisco already has thousands of cloud builders today that the company is working with to help add Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and Intercloud Fabric capabilities, to move them into the world of Intercloud. Intercloud Fabric is the software-based building block for hybrid cloud infrastructures.

Cisco is also working on a new Authorized Technology Partner (ATP) program that enables and identifies these cloud Builder partners as being able to work with end users to integrate Intercloud Fabric with a customer's private cloud. ATP is an invitation-only program -- and specialization -- to deliver this capability to customers. ATP is an existing framework at Cisco, but the vendor is designing a new ATP program specific to Intercloud Fabric/Intercloud, according to Peres.

Invitation to this program will begin with partners that hold a data center specialization.

The Cisco executive also noted that the company has evolved its Cisco Powered program to enroll the new providers as Intercloud partners.

On the technology side, Cisco added an Intercloud cloud services bundle to its price list. This bundle can be resold by partners or by Cisco's sales organization, and allows an end user to get Intercloud, via Intercloud Fabric and Access Control Server (ACS).

"So if a customer wants to move into the hybrid world and they don't have a private cloud today, they can buy these bundles and start moving into a hybrid environment using Intercloud and Intercloud Fabric," said Peres, who added that there is also an IaaS offering as part of the new bundle.

Cisco announced its intention to offer this bundle several months ago at Cisco Live.

Cisco also announced today that Intercloud Fabric is now available.

In addition, the vendor has committed $1 billion in financing through Cisco Capital to help Provider partners acquire infrastructure to provide cloud services.

"Using Cisco Capital we can help partners with their upfront costs while they monetize the business over time," Peres said.

Cisco also announced today that its Evolved Services Platform (ESP) -- a virtualization and orchestration software platform that creates, automates and provisions services in real time across compute, storage and network functions -- now enables cloud providers to deliver two new virtualized and automated managed business services: Security and Cloud VPN. According to the vendor, ESP solutions are designed to help cloud providers address the fast-growing SMB segment, which is expected to grow to $62 billion by 2019.

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