Posts Tagged ‘Cisco’

This morning Brocade announced it would acquire privately held open source networking software company Vyatta. The rise of software defined networks seems to be a legitimate problem the Vyatta solution can solve. Founded back in 2005, Vyatta has struggled to find a use case for its virtual routing capabilities over the years, remaining a niche company used by network engineers who like to experiment on the network. I’ve always said the branch router segment of Cisco’s business might be the most difficult market share to cut into, as the Integrated Services Router (ISR) is the de facto standard branch router.

Earlier this week Cisco and Citrix made some noise when they announced an expanded partnership. The partnership brings together the market leader in networking and data center infrastructure and combines it with the market leader in desktop virtualization. The expanded partnership should be a “win-win-win” for both organizations and their customers, as the two companies can bring their respective strengths together to deliver greater functionality through joint development. Some partnerships are nothing more than PowerPoint integration, but this one should have some teeth. As much as I like this partnership, I’m a firm believer that Cisco should pony up the cash, stocks or whatever else it needs and actually buy Citrix.

I’ve covered Cisco for many years and I’ve long felt that Citrix would be a great acquisition for the company. Cisco has stated through the years it didn’t want to be an application vendor (although UC manager and wants to deliver infrastructure). Citrix is infrastructure, it’s just application infrastructure. Given the current trends of cloud computing, BYOD and device evolution, Citrix would certainly command a hefty premium over its current $12 billion market cap, but I still think it would be worth it. My personal belief is that if an acquisition is a good acquisition, you can’t really pay too much. For example, if Cisco had paid 10x what it did for Selsius, would anyone really care now? After all, that technology purchase eventually made Cisco the market leader in VoIP. Conversely, if an acquisition is a bad one, then you can’t pay too little. There are many examples of this so I won’t make anyone look bad by mentioning one.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know there’s no single technology trend that has more hype and mania around it than “software defined networks.” It’s this era’s “2.0,” or the technology equivalent of Andrew Luck. Lots of hype, plenty of potential, but has yet to produce anything. To date, almost every leading vendor has outlined an SDN strategy, but the one missing vendor has been the No. 2 market share leader, HP. After interviews with a number of HP customers and channel partners it appears HP is ready to unveil its SDN strategy.

From a vision perspective, there’s really nothing unique about what HP is doing – they’re focused on IT agility through the decoupling of control and data plane. HP has extended the value proposition of this to applications through a number of open APIs similar to what Avaya, Brocade and Cisco are doing. What’s not clear to me is who the application partners will be at time of launch, if any, but its support of applications is consistent with the rest of the industry.

Yesterday, Silicon Valley’s biggest shopaholic, Cisco, added to its wireless portfolio when it announced the acquisition of a small company that develops Wi-Fi analytic technologies called ThinkSmart Technologies. ThinkSmart is a Cork, Ireland, based technology company that uses the information it gains from Wi-Fi networks to collect intelligent information such as time of day, traffic patterns and dwell times for mobile users.

There were no financial terms announced, so it’s a safe bet this was a relatively small acquisition primarily meant to add the technology into existing Cisco products.

I like this move by Cisco for a number of reasons. One of them is that it’s based overseas, so Cisco can use part of the huge war chest of cash it has in Europe. Company CEO John Chambers has strongly stated that it would continue to invest in Cisco, but the amount of U.S. investment it does will be limited until the Obama or incoming administration (if different) grants a repatriation holiday on bringing foreign cash back into the country.

Cisco added to its long list of acquisitions after recently plucking off Silicon Valley-based Virtuata. Virtuata is a provider of virtual machine and cloud security and will be incorporated into Cisco’s data center group, which is run by former Q-Fabric chief David Yen. No financial details were given but the company only has 15 people, so it’s likely to be a relatively small deal for Cisco.

This is typical of Cisco, which either buys large, market-leading firms like Tandberg or WebEx, or very small technology companies that can be dropped into existing business units. Considering the Obama administration has yet to grant a repatriation holiday, and is unlikely to prior to the election, this is likely to be what we will continue to see from Cisco regarding domestic acquisitions.

This move makes sense for Cisco for a number of reasons. First, security remains the biggest inhibitor to cloud and virtual environments, so adding a security product into the mix makes total sense. Virtuata is also a technology company, making integration into Cisco’s existing products such as its Unified Computing System (UCS) and Nexus-based Fabric much easier than if it had been a product company with a large install base.

Many vendors will claim to have invented the term “network fabric.” I’m not 100% sure who actually used it first but in my mind, Juniper was the first to go mainstream with it. It’s a little like MPLS was back in the day. Ipsilon actually invented it but Cisco evangelized it and made it a real market. So I’ll give Juniper the nod here and acknowledge that launching the project “Stratus” is when the term “network fabric” actually went mainstream. I believe Brocade was the first vendor to ship a fabric, allowing them to wear that badge of honor.

The launch of Stratus was several years ago and, since then, much has transpired. Stratus became QFabric, David Yen jumped to arch rival Cisco and QFabric has fallen under tremendous media scrutiny as a product that has failed to come close to the initial hype around it. So, the question I pose is whether QFabric is indeed the game-changing technology Juniper says it is, or it’s just a cool idea that never really catches on.

On the positive side, I will say that the concept behind QFabric is interesting. It’s very simple and elegant – a big distributed switch. I remember having a discussion with Juniper’s Andy Ingram about Occam’s Razor. That is the theory that states when there are multiple solutions to a problem, the simplest one is the best one. What’s simpler than a single-tier network? Nothing. So, according to that principle, QFabric should be a smashing success.

At the end of last week, Cisco’s OJ Winge published a blog announcing that the company would cease investments in its Cius tablet. Does this mean it’s end-of-lifing it or killing it as I’ve read in many of the press articles? No, it does not.

In fact, if you read the rest of the blog post, Winge states that Cisco would continue to support the existing base of Cius tablets (which is small) and make the Cisco-branded tablet available to a handful of customers that require a ruggedized, corporate-first tablet. With that being said, the fact remains that we won’t be seeing the Cius tablet in the hands of your doctor or at Best Buy any time soon as it’s not a big focus point for Cisco.



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