Cisco adds SDN expertise with purchase of startup Embrane

Cisco plans to acquire Embrane, a software-defined networking (SDN) startup that already has an established relationship with the manufacturer. Terms of the deal were not released.

In a blog post, Cisco said the unique skillset and talent of the Embrane team will allow it to move more quickly to meet customer demands. "Together with Cisco's engineering expertise, the Embrane team will help to expand our strategy of offering freedom of choice to our customers through the Nexus product portfolio and enhance the capabilities of Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI)," wrote Hilton Romanski, senior vice president and head of business development at Cisco.

"We continue our commitment to open standards through programmable APIs and multi-vendor environments," Romanski said. "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."

The Embrane team will join Cisco's Insieme Business Unit. Cisco acquired privately held Insieme Networks in 2013.

The Embrane acquisition is expected to be complete before the end of this quarter. 

Embrane is led by former Spirent Communications CEO Bill Burns. Last year, Embrane raised $14 million in a Series C funding round led by Cisco. It boasts the status of being one of the first companies to create an SDN solution that adds agility to the network and network services.

Cisco, along with SK Telecom, joined the Open Network Operating System--ONOS for short--earlier this year. ONOS is a carrier-grade, open-source SDN operating system for service provider networks architected to provide high availability, scalability, performance and rich northbound and southbound abstractions. ON.Lab, which released ONOS with leading service providers, vendors and collaborators in December, is a nonprofit organization founded by SDN inventors and leaders from Stanford University and the University of California-Berkeley.

Cisco and SK Telecom joined founding members that are providing funding and contributions to the ONOS initiative: AT&T (NYSE: T), NTT Communications, Ciena, Fujitsu, Huawei, Intel and NEC. Other members that are collaborating and contributing include ONF, Infoblox, SRI, Black Duck, Internet2, GARR, CNIT and Create-Net.

At the time, Kang-Won Lee, senior vice president of R&D at SK Telecom, told FierceWirelessTech that SK felt it was important to participate because ONOS is trying to create an SDN controller for service providers, and SDN is expected to be a key component in 5G.

The Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) is also an important industry group, which SK joined as well. Operators say these efforts are important because they do not want to worry about dealing with individual vendors and differences in technologies coming from different parties. With open source, their suppliers will need to speak the same language, so to speak. 

For more:
- see this Cisco blog
- see this ZDNet story
- see this PCWorld story
- see this Light Reading story

Related articles:
SDN initiative gains momentum with new members Cisco, SK Telecom
Why AT&T, Verizon, Ericsson and the rest of the industry is embracing SDN and NFV
SK Telecom, Korea Telecom, Spirent join OPNFV
AT&T, Cisco showing the way to SDN and NFV