Light Reading

Cisco to Spend $141M for More SDN Help

Craig Matsumoto
News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is buying Cariden Technologies Inc. , a vendor of capacity planning and management tools, giving itself a multilayer and possibly multivendor viewpoint similar to what Cyan Inc. offers.

The $141 million cash deal is expected to close before February. Cariden's team would report to the Software and Applications Group within Cisco's Service Provider Networking Group.

Founded in 2001, Cariden provides tools that peek into the state of optical and IP networks. Cariden claims it's been successful there, having been profitable since 2003, but it's a really small market.

To expand, the company recently got into analytics. Part of the company's value there lies in its ability to "read" each vendor's gear, interpreting the states of VPNs or of quality-of-service metrics.

Cariden also introduced an operating system for network services, called NS-OS, in August.

Why this matters
It's a network management play that could be of help in software-defined networking (SDN).

Cariden's tools would let Cisco provide a view into converged IP/optical networks, much the way Cyan does. (Cyan's multilayer, multivendor network management netted it a Leading Lights award earlier this month.)

Cariden could also help program those layers, making it relevant to the Open Networking Environment (ONE), the architecture behind Cisco's SDN plans. A major part of ONE involves using application programing interfaces (APIs) to program various layers of the network.

Despite Cisco's penchant for providing entire networks end-to-end, it might also be acquiring tools useful for running multivendor networks. One purported advantage of SDN is the ability to more easily manage a multivendor environment, and Cariden worked hard to develop hooks into all the large vendors' management systems.

For more

— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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Pete Baldwin
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:16:50 PM
re: Cisco to Spend $141M for More SDN Help

Greg Ferro of Packet Pushers fame (@etherealmind on Twitter) brings up a good point: What's this mean for Insieme?

His impression is that Insieme is all about the software -- in which case Cariden shouldn't have been all that necessary. Hm.

Pete Baldwin
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:16:50 PM
re: Cisco to Spend $141M for More SDN Help

The comparisons to Cyan are my own off-the-cuff impression. Cariden absolutely did not compete with Cyan, but Cisco+Cariden ... I think that could create some pressure for Cyan.

Not that Cyan is the biggest fish, but they've got some impressive network management abilities (hence the Leading Light award), and Cisco might be on the way to rivaling that. Maybe. I'm sure someone will let me know if I'm off-base here.

Also, $141M doesn't seem like a lot for a profitable 12-year-old company, especially one that's already ensconced with Tier 1s (Brian Marshall of ISI lists VZ, Telstra, SingTel, Swisscom and Deutsche Telecom.)  Then again, Cariden's market has always been small, as the company itself admits.

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