Cisco Acquires Data Center SDN Startup Embrane

Cisco-funded startup's tech to be folded into network giant's Application Centric Infrastructure

Jason Verge

April 2, 2015

2 Min Read
Cisco Acquires Data Center SDN Startup Embrane
Former Cisco CEO John Chambers (Photo: Cisco)

Cisco said Wednesday it will acquire Embrane, a Santa Clara, California-based software defined networking firm. Cisco made a strategic investment in the company last year, leading a $14 million Series C funding round. The acquisition is expected to close at the end of the current quarter. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Data center SDN startup Embrane’s platform provides lifecycle management for application-centric network services. It provides layer 4-7 network services and helps bridge a larger transition to SDN.

Embrane will be integrated into Cisco’s Nexus data center switch portfolio and extend Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure capabilities. ACI is Cisco's proprietary approach to data center SDN.

SDN helps make the network and its parts fluid. ACI is aimed at making the network responsive to application needs automatically. ACI communicates high-level application requirements to intelligent network hardware, which self-configures accordingly.

There has been rising activity in Network Function Virtualization in particular, which replaces physical appliances with virtualized network functions like firewalls, load balancers, intrusion detection, and WAN accelerators. Embrane’s Heleos platform deploys software-based appliances such as firewalls across a pool of commodity servers.

“With agility and automation as persistent drivers for IT teams, the need to simplify application deployment and build the cloud is crucial for the data center,” Hilton Romanski, Cisco's head of corporate development, wrote in a blog post.

Embrane will join Cisco’s Insieme business unit, the foundation of which was the 2012 acquisition of Insieme a data center SDN startup Cisco itself founded. Insieme was acquired as part of the ACI effort, launched that same year in response to a growing SDN opportunity and formally launched in 2014.

Embrane tech will feel at home at Cisco given the two companies have worked extensively together. Embrane’s founders formerly worked for Cisco. Following funding, Embrane has added lifecycle management for a variety of Cisco products and expanded support for other third-party systems.

"With this acquisition, we continue our commitment to open standards through programmable APIs and multi-vendor environments,” wrote Romanski. "More importantly, we remain committed to the rich ecosystem of partners and customers in production through the automation of network services, cloud and system management orchestration, and automation stacks."

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