Cisco Buys LineSider to Fortify Cloud Automation, Network Management

Cisco plans to acquire privately held LineSider to boost its cloud capabilities by adding cloud automation and network management for multitenant networks.

Cisco will acquire network management software company LineSider, strengthening its cloud capabilities, the company said on Dec. 1.

LineSider's technology will strengthen Cisco's cloud computing services by integrating cloud infrastructure with customers' existing IT systems, Cisco said. IT administrators have the challenge of managing the ever-changing network state as virtual devices are added, moved or changed regularly between physical locations or network segments.

Privately held LineSider addresses the challenge with its rapid network provisioning software. OverDrive provides an abstraction layer that allows users to easily organize and reorganize network components. The policies can reconfigure virtual networks, depending on demand. LineSider has a version of OverDrive that works with rival Cisco rival 3Com's routers, letting customers easily virtualize their networks.

"With the acquisition of LineSider, Cisco will gain a key component to helping customers make this shift" to cloud computing, said Jesper Andersen, senior vice president of Cisco's Network Management Technology group.

OverDrive software integrates both physical and virtual network services using a policy-based approach, making networks more flexible, said Andersen. OverDrive orchestrates in real time the network services that control how cloud applications are delivered to end users.

LineSider automates the configuration of network resources like load balancers and firewalls to create a network topology, instead of having to do them manually, as currently is the case, Andersen told eWEEK. OverDrive's "multitenant capability" will cater to the service provider building out cloud infrastructure as well as for the enterprise building virtualized data centers internally, he said.

This is both a "technology and talent" acquisition, said Andersen. Cisco plans to expand OverDrive across its entire cloud portfolio, he said.

A Cisco partner, LineSider also has partnerships with EMC and Hewlett-Packard. "We've been working with them for a very long time," and while it started out as a regular partnership, over the past year "we started working very closely" with LineSider in Cisco's cloud engagements, said Andersen. Cisco's labs worked with LineSider, and there were items on LineSider's road map that Cisco helped work on, he said.

Cisco prides itself on having a "partner-friendly strategy," where partners can access a broad range of technologies to fine-tune their own offerings, said Andersen. As a result of this acquisition, other Cisco partners will be able to access OverDrive's capabilities via an API infrastructure and extend functionality to their applications, he said.

Cisco has been making a lot of moves in the cloud computing space recently. "Cisco obviously views cloud as a huge opportunity," said Andersen, as customers create "more effective" business models and increase network efficiency. The company announced Cisco FabricPath, a networking technology for data centers, Cisco Data Path, a cloud computing technology, and Cisco Intelligent Automation for IT Services to simplify data center management, earlier this year.

Cisco expects to close the deal by April 2011. For the immediate future, Cisco will continue to sell OverDrive as is, but whether the name will be retained or changed "remains to be seen," said Andersen. LineSider's 20 employees will join Cisco's Network Management Technology group. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.