SDN Technology

Cisco to Acquire Embrane for Network Services

Cisco on Wednesday announced its intent to acquire Embrane, which provides lifecycle management for virtual network appliances such as firewalls/VPNs and load balancers.

Embrane Inc. 's heleos platform allows network operators to spin up and shut down instantiations of network services, helping automatically manage and configure networks. The Embrane software not only starts and stops the services, it also remembers configuration, so your firewall instantiation -- for example -- is immediately set up and ready to go, with no manual configuration required.

Embrane also manages licenses, to help make it easier for network operators to make sure their vendors get paid, and to fend off marauding packs of carnivorous lawyers.

In other words, Embrane makes management software to manage management software. How many levels of Inception deep are we?

John Vincenzo, then VP marketing at Embrane, last year. Cisco is buying Embrane to pick up style tips.
John Vincenzo, then VP marketing at Embrane, last year. Cisco is buying Embrane to pick up style tips.

The only surprise in the acquisition is that it took so long. Embrance and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) have been flirting forever, like two co-workers that bicker and eat lunch together every day before they finally hook up at an office Christmas party.

Cisco invested $6 million in Embrane early last year, leading a $14 million C round of funding for $41 million overall. Other investors include Presidio Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, Lightspeed Venture Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners. (See Embrane Helps Cisco Build Its SDN Strategy.)

Embrane was founded in late 2009 by Cisco alumni and staff from other companies.

In April, Embrane replaced co-founder Dante Malagrinò as CEO, naming ex-Spirent Communications head Bill Burns to the position. (See Embrane Taps Ex-Spirent Boss Bill Burns as CEO and Dapper Embrane Exec Defends New CEO.)

Cisco announced the acquisition in a blog post early Wednesday, citing "agility and automation" and "the need to simplify application deployment and build the cloud."

With the Embrane acquisition, Cisco will face the challenge of convincing customers to use Cisco software to manage software from other vendors. Cisco has a history of pushing its customers to use all-Cisco hardware and software for everything. But now Cisco sees the need to work with other vendors' products, and must convince customers that it's sincere about that and up to the job. Cisco faces a similar challenge with customers of Tail-f, a company that makes automated network equipment management tools that Cisco acquired last year. This year, Cisco made a basic version of Tail-f's ConfD tool free, part of an effort to keep competitors and carriers on board. (See Cisco Woos Competitors With Free ConfD.)

Embrane's team will join Cisco's Insieme Business Unit, and its work will be integrated into the Cisco Nexus product line and Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) SDN platform.

The acquisition will be completed before the end of the current quarter, and financial terms are not disclosed, says Cisco.

Want to know more about SDN? This will be just one of the many topics covered at Light Reading's second Big Telecom Event on June 9-10 in Chicago. Get yourself registered today or get left behind!

Early customers for Embrane included Peer 1 Network Inc. (TSX-V: PIX) and SunGard (NYSE: SDS). PEER 1 integrated Embrane into its cloud portal, allowing enterprise customers to spin-up firewalls, site-to-site VPN and load balancers in 90 seconds. SunGard used load balancers and firewalls form Embrane in its disaster recovery services. (See Embrane Announces Customers.)

Embrane was a finalist in Light Reading's Leading Lights awards in 2013. (See 2013 Leading Lights Finalists: Company of the Year (Private).)

By the way, the deadline is April 10 for entering the 2015 Leading Lights awards -- you don't want to miss that! (See Leading Lights Awards: It's Now or Never!)

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected]

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