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Who knows who created the intercloud term, but it is a major development in articulating the enterprise cloud payoff.  Check out this Cisco blog and intercloud preso.  It is a grand and spectacular vision of where computing needs to go.

Think of the intercloud as an elastic mesh of on demand processing power deployed across multiple data centers.  The payoff is massive scale, efficiency and flexibility. 

Just when you thought that Google and Amazon would control the skies, along comes Cisco with a brilliant vision that amplifies the role of the network and offers enterprises a sexy alternative.

As hot an idea as it is, the Intercloud might have detractors like Mark Masterson, who recently published a brilliant presentation on enterprise cloud security.  You want to watch the preso.  He makes the case for why security needs to evolve to protect the cloud.  The intercloud will need to address these issues even more so than the partially virtualized racks of blades some are already calling clouds.

The brilliance of the intercloud is today's gap between the intercloud promise and reality: the network.  That's why it makes great sense for networking hardware like Cisco to begin educating the market about where cloud computing needs to go, and ultimately the investments in automation and management that will be required.  The vision will help to champion the needed technology.

Before we get too carried away with the intercloud promise, let's talk about a few challenges here on the ground.  Everyone probably agrees that it will be the most powerful, cost effective and compelling form of cloud computing for the enterprise.  Yet according to Internet visionary Vinton Cerf, today's Internet isn't yet prepped for the much simpler stuff:

"One of the most critical needs is authentication, Cerf said, and he told the crowd at a TechAmerica gathering Wednesday that anyone who performs transactions over the Internet -- which is everyone -- "should be deeply concerned about that technology."

The lack of authentication is pervasive and is even a problem in simple cases, such as authenticating entries in the domain name system, he said."

Patrick Thibodeau, Computerworld June 11, 2009

 There are also still issues with management and virtualization, as Denise Dubie suggested in Network World recently:

A majority of IT departments are deploying virtualization, but still most don't feel comfortable with the tools and technologies they have in place to manage application performance or troubleshoot problems in the virtual environment, according to recent survey results."

- Denise Dubie, Network World, May 2009

 The intercloud won't be a cakewalk.  As Cerf advises authentication (including the ages old art of addressing) will need to be tackled as a part of infrastructure 2.0.  Management of more fluid VM environments will also continue to be issues.  Bit what a sexy vision.

I am a senior director at Infoblox. You can follow my comments in real time at www.twitter.com/archimedius.

More Stories By Greg Ness

Gregory Ness is the VP of Marketing of Vidder and has over 30 years of experience in marketing technology, B2B and consumer products and services. Prior to Vidder, he was VP of Marketing at cloud migration pioneer CloudVelox. Before CloudVelox he held marketing leadership positions at Vantage Data Centers, Infoblox (BLOX), BlueLane Technologies (VMW), Redline Networks (JNPR), IntruVert (INTC) and ShoreTel (SHOR). He has a BA from Reed College and an MA from The University of Texas at Austin. He has spoken on virtualization, networking, security and cloud computing topics at numerous conferences including CiscoLive, Interop and Future in Review.