Continuing the trend toward managed cloud services Cisco announced its intent to acquire Piston Cloud. This announcement comes after the announcements that EMC acquired Virtustream (my take here), and IBM acquired Blue Box (my take here). 
Let’s dissect the Cisco blog (it can be found here) about the announcement:

Cloud computing has fundamentally altered the IT landscape: dramatically boosting IT agility, while lowering costs. To realize the business advantages of cloud, organizations are shifting to a hybrid IT model—blending private cloud, public cloud, and on-premise applications.

MyPOV – It looks like the demand for hybrid cloud has gotten much stronger, considering this announcement.

To help customers maintain control and compliance in this hyper-connected, hyper-distributed IT environment, Cisco and its partners are building the Intercloud—a globally connected network of clouds. Today, Cisco is taking another important step towards realizing our ambitious Intercloud vision.

MyPOV – Good for Cisco to connect the intended acquisition with Intercloud – my analysis of the original announcement is here.

We are pleased to announce our intent to acquire Piston Cloud Computing, which will help accelerate the product, delivery, and operational capabilities of Cisco Intercloud Services.

Paired with our recent acquisition of Metacloud, Piston’s distributed systems engineering and OpenStack talent will further enhance our capabilities around cloud automation, availability, and scale. 

MyPOV – Piston Cloud’s product delivers a ‘cloud os’ that can ‘plug in’ a number of cloud services. As such Piston Cloud gives a large number of using different technologies, something that enterprises care about as they do not know for sure which technologies they want to use for their next generation application projects. Being able to run these from the same platform is a significant value proposition that Piston Cloud has delivered. Given the heterogeneous nature of the environments traditional Cisco customers operate, certainly a good move. My analysis of the mentioned Metacloud acquisition is here.

The acquisition of Piston will complement our Intercloud strategy by bringing additional operational experience on the underlying infrastructure that powers Cisco OpenStack Private Cloud.

MyPOV – So Piston Cloud will become part of the Cisco OpenStack offering – no surprise here. Good to have the clarity.

Additionally, Piston’s deep knowledge of distributed systems and automated deployment will help further enhance our delivery capabilities for customers and partners.

MyPOV – Fair for Cisco to admit that Piston Cloud has some serious chops bringing together such diverse technologies like e.g. Docker or Spark.

To bring the world of standalone clouds together, Cisco and our partners are building the Intercloud. The Intercloud is designed to deliver secure cloud services everywhere in the world. Our enterprise-class portfolio of technology and cloud services gives customers the choice to build their own private clouds or consume cloud services from a trusted Intercloud Provider. The Intercloud provides choice of services, all with compliance and control. In a nutshell: we’re delivering cloud the way our customers need it.

MyPOV – The marketing line for Cisco Intercloud. But the intended acquisition of Piston Cloud certainly gives more credibility and more crucially more capability into this direction. One can only speculate why only now these two have come together.

Piston will join our Cloud Services team under the leadership of Faiyaz Shahpurwala, senior vice president, Cloud Infrastructure and Managed Services Organization.

MyPOV – Always good to hear where acquisitions are going to be anchored organizationally. I have shared my concerns in regards of services leadership building products, but that is a general concern and happy to give Shapurwala and the team the benefit of the doubt. The future will tell.

Overall POV

It can’t be coincidence of EMC, IBM and Cisco are all completing acquisitions in the managed cloud / hybrid cloud space. It makes sense for all three vendors to push the hybrid agenda, as all three of them have existing sales channels into local data centers. To a certain point this movement indicates a failure of the ‘public only' cloud vendors (e.g. AWS and Google).
Nothing that can be held e.g. against Cisco, who by itself tries to differentiate itself by ‘playing nice’ to the demands, needs (and maybe angst) of CIOs in regards of the public cloud. The interesting development is, that CIOs seem to be comfortable letting 3rd parties do the management of their private cloud infrastructure, but still want to see their data center being utilized. Write down time frames may play a role here, but overall an interesting development that I will spend more time analyzing going forward.

On the concern side, it is another acquisition and Cisco will have to hold on to the Piston Cloud team talent. But Cisco is an experienced acquirer and knows how to make sure that the key people stay around.

So overall a good move by Cisco, the flexibility of Piston Cloud is something that has the potential to be a differentiator for Cisco InterCloud. Congratulations.