Cisco and BMC Software today announced a cloud delivery platform that\u2019s designed to help service providers simplify and automate the provisioning of cloud services.Top 5 network management investmentsThe Integrated Cloud Delivery Platform, jointly developed by the two vendors, is targeted at providers that are building large-scale, multi-tenant cloud infrastructures. With it, cloud providers can eliminate many of the manual steps required to set up a cloud computing service running on an infrastructure that spans data center networks, servers, storage and applications, the vendors say.\u201cThe alliance brings Cisco\u2019s expertise in networking and computing together with BMC\u2019s expertise in cloud management and business service management to offer customers all the essential elements to quickly orchestrate cloud services and respond faster to changing business needs,\u201d says Paul Sanchirico, vice president of the service provider systems unit at Cisco.The integrated system combines Cisco\u2019s Unified Service Delivery (USD) technologies with BMC\u2019s cloud-computing software orchestration and management system, called Cloud LifeCycle Management (CLM). Unveiled last year, USD is a cloud computing platform for service providers that combines Cisco's CRS-1 core Internet router, Nexus 7000 data center switches and its Unified Computing System (UCS), which integrates blade servers with switching, storage access, virtualization and management.The joint Cisco-BMC platform \u201cprovides a full-stack provisioning capability for rapid provisioning of services, in minutes rather than days or weeks, and it provides full cloud lifecycle management \u2013 everything from how you request a service to how you configure and provision it,\u201d says Paul Avenant, senior vice president of products and strategy for enterprise service management at BMC.The Integrated Cloud Delivery Platform also includes a self-service management portal that lets service providers offer their customers a way to set up and tear down cloud services as their business requirements change.By reducing the complexity and speeding the delivery of cloud services, providers can pursue new revenue opportunities and alternate delivery models, Sanchirico adds.For multi-tenant cloud security, the platform employs Cisco\u2019s network container architecture that creates physical and virtual partitions based on customers\u2019 security and capacity requirements. Load balancing, firewalls and QoS features can be automatically attached to each container.\u201cThis helps [service providers] set up the network containers, determine which workloads are best suited for which containers, and automatically provision the systems or services into the appropriate containers. That\u2019s something they would have had to do manually on their own,\u201d Avenant says.In addition to speeding deployment, the container architecture delivers the enhanced networking capabilities that providers need to attract enterprise cloud customers, Sanchirico says.\u201cA lot of the cloud offerings today are kind of \u2018best effort\u2019 when it comes to the network capabilities or the Layer 4-7 service capabilities. What we\u2019re doing here is enabling the service providers to offer much richer capabilities,\u201d Sanchirico says. \u201cThe firewalls are part of what they\u2019re delivering, the load balancers are there, and the networking VLANs and VRFs are established as part of the service capabilities that providers can deliver to their enterprise customers.\u201dCisco and BMC have partnered in the past, including for last year\u2019s launch of Cisco\u2019s UCS. As part of that launch, the vendors integrated Cisco UCS Manager with BMC's Atrium CMDB and BladeLogic Service Automation products.For this effort, Cisco and BMC co-developed the technology, aligned their R&D and product roadmaps, and are coordinating their sales and marketing efforts. The new alliance also calls for Cisco to resell BMC\u2019s Service Assurance and Compliance solutions as an option on Cisco\u2019s UCS.Follow Ann on Twitter: https:\/\/twitter.com\/annbednarzRead more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.