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Cisco May Unveil Insieme SDN Technology Nov. 6

The technology from Insieme, a "spin-in" company that Cisco invested $100 million in, could help Cisco as it takes on SDN competitors.

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Executives at Cisco Systems might soon be ready to unveil what its startup company Insieme Networks has been developing.

Cisco is setting up an event in New York City for Nov. 6 in which the networking vendor will launch an "application-centric infrastructure" that will "usher in a new era of simplicity and automation for data centers worldwide," according to an email invitation to journalists and others. The event will include company CEO John Chambers.

Reports out of Business Insider and other sites have speculated that Insieme's much-anticipated software-defined networking (SDN) product will be introduced then. Cisco last year invested more than $100 million to create the "spin-in" company led by three Cisco engineers, and could spend another $750 million if it decides to buy Insieme.

In a memo to employees last year, executives said that "Insieme's product development efforts are complementary to that of Cisco's current and planned internal investments. Insieme and other internal programs will be components of Cisco's broader programmability framework."

Industry observers had expected Cisco to disclose more about Insieme's products in June as part of the Cisco Live 2013 event. Cisco officials unveiled their Application-Centric Architecture and said it was the first fruits of the Insieme investment, but some were disappointed about the lack of details. The expectation now is that those details will come in November.

Insieme's work is increasingly important to Cisco as the increasingly competitive SDN space continues to grow. SDN promises to create more scalable, flexible and programmable networks by decoupling the control plane from the underlying infrastructure and putting it into software.

Cisco now is addressing the network virtualization space with its Cisco Open Networking Environment (ONE), but is finding itself in tough competition with not only other established networking players such as Juniper Networks and Hewlett-Packard, but also a host of smaller startups.

In addition, longtime partner VMware, which last year bought SDN startup Nicira for $1.26 billion, in August rolled out its NSX network virtualization platform that includes technology from Nicira and a range of partners not named Cisco. Analysts saw the launch of NSX—and Cisco's absence from the list of partners—as further indication of the splintering relationship between the two companies.