Cisco Acquires Embrane for SDN Topology Tech

Cisco aims to extend its ACI SDN with virtual topology and application container technologies.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Apr 1, 2015
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Cisco today announced the acquisition of privately-held Embrane. Financial terms of the deal are not being publicly disclosed. Embrane will not become part of the Cisco Insieme business unit, which is where Cisco has placed its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) assets.

As to why Cisco decided to acquire Embrane, a Cisco spokesperson told Enterprise Networking Planet that the unique skillset and talent of the Embrane team, combined with Cisco’s engineering expertise, will further extend the Nexus product footprint and Application Centric Infrastructure technology platforms.

"The acquisition of Embrane will enable Cisco to deliver new features in a more timely manner and continue to offer customers freedom of choice in modernizing their data centers," the spokesperson stated.

When asked about potential customer overlap, the spokesperson noted that Embrane’s existing customers include Sungard, Peer 1 Hosting, Long View, UOL, and BMC. Cisco will continue to support all obligations under these customer contracts as appropriate.

"We will continue to work closely with Embrane’s existing customers," the spokesperson stated.

That said, Embrane's existence as a standalone product brand is now at an end.

"Embrane’s products will not be sold as part of Cisco’s products on a standalone basis," the spokesperson said.

Embrane's approach to SDN is based on the idea of virtual Topologies (vTopologies). In an interview with Enterprise Networking Planet in 2013, Dante Malagrinò, co-founder, president, and CEO of Embrane, commented that vTopologies and virtual Links are ways to virtualize a network for connectivity at Layer 3.

At the time, Malagrinò explained that the vLinks are point-to-point Layer 3 overlays that can chain any set of Embrane software-defined services. So for example, firewall and load balancer technologies can be used as an overlay, independent of the physical networking structure.

Another key part of the Embrane approach is the Embrane Elastic Service Manager (ESM) that enables the creation of application containers.

"Application containers are all about the idea of delivering virtual network infrastructure that can be provided on a per-application basis," Malagrinò said.

Now, after being acquired by Cisco, Malagrinò expects to be able to further the vision of agile networking.

"The networking DNA of Cisco and Embrane together drives our common vision for an Application Centric Infrastructure," Malagrinò wrote in a blog post. We both believe that innovation must be evolutionary and enable IT organizations to transition to their future state on their own terms - and with their own timelines."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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