Cisco Gets Closer to Corvil
The clue is buried in a Cisco press release covering the expansion of its integrated services router portfolio, issued on Monday. The release cites “enhanced Network Analysis Module (NAM) features [providing] bandwidth estimation in Cisco IOS 12.4 for user-defined quality of service (QoS).” (See Cisco Expands Router Portfolio.)
This "bandwidth estimation" feature is actually Corvil’s software agent, according to Pedro Colaco, Corvil’s vice president of product management and marketing. As such, it appears to confirm what Corvil has hinted at in the past -- that its technology has now ended up inside Cisco equipment as well as in Corvil’s own appliances (see Corvil: Another Cisco Secret?).
Cisco wasn't available to comment on this issue as this article went to press.
Cisco is already an investor in Corvil, which has developed technology for removing the guesswork from capacity planning in IP networks. The technology samples traffic volumes every few milliseconds and then condenses large numbers of these measurements into a single message that is sent back to a network management system every five minutes. This is the same frequency with which routers typically send a single traffic measurement back to base -- a granularity that fails to help capacity planners work out how much bandwidth they need to provide in order to guarantee QOS without over-engineering their networks, according to Corvil.
Corvil is now overhauling its CorvilNet software to work with both the software agent in Cisco routers and the startup’s own appliances. The previous version only worked with Corvil’s devices, such as the Corvil-1000, a one-rack-unit-high network appliance.
Other new features in the software include a network monitoring dashboard and the ability to publish results in what is known as a management information base (MIB), a database of objects monitored by a network management system.
CEO Donal Byrne says more product enhancements are in the pipeline for later this year, covering both hardware and software. These will offer improved packet analysis and inspection, as well as better scaleability.
As noted, there’s already been plenty of speculation that Cisco will eventually acquire Corvil in the same way that it’s gobbled up other startups aiming to help enterprises and service providers guarantee QOS and make better use of IP bandwidth. Two notable examples of this are Parc Technologies and P-Cube (see Cisco's Parc Purchase: An MPLS Play and Cisco Plucks P-Cube for $200M).
In fact, the amount of money that Cisco paid for Parc ($9 million) and P-Cube ($200 million) underscores an issue probably facing Cisco: Should it hang loose and hope that Corvil runs out of money and can be bought for a song, as happened with Parc, or should it charge ahead and acquire Corvil before it’s managed to build up its business to the point where it can command a much higher price, as happened with P-Cube?
Byrne, of course, says he's focused on developing his own business. “We’re building up a direct sales organization,” he says, adding that non-Cisco customers currently account for around 60 percent of Corvil’s business.
Colaco, the former vice president of marketing at Expand Networks Inc., who was lured over to Corvil earlier this year, adds that Cisco is not the only party with a stake in the company’s future: “We have other investors who are interested in seeing us grow as a company."
These include ACT Venture Capital, Apax Partners, and Enterprise Ireland, an Irish government organization that aims to develop businesses within Ireland.
— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum