Cloupia acquisition shows Cisco is serious about cloud management

In acquiring Cloupia, Cisco improves management for its cloud resources on the back end.

This morning Cisco announced the intention to purchase privately held Cloupia for approximately $125 million in cash, adding to its long list of cloud-related acquisitions.

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For those who don’t know Cloupia, the company sells management software to orchestrate and manage cloud (physical and virtual) infrastructure through a single pane of glass. Cloud is driving the need for converged infrastructure and the vendor industry has responded nicely with Cisco, EMC, Network Appliance, Dell, HP and others having participated in building converged infrastructure. However, managing converged infrastructure is significantly different than managing legacy infrastructure. The CAs and HPs of the world do a great job of managing static, physical infrastructure, but a gap exists with virtual and even a bigger gaps exists in managing physical and virtual in a single plane of glass. This is the gap that Cloupia is trying to fill with its products.

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This should be a good acquisition for Cisco as the company has made a huge bet on converged infrastructure led by the highflying UCS server products. If you’ve read the earning transcripts from the last few quarters, you’ve seen that UCS has been the highest-growing product at the company and it’s been pulling through Nexus, demonstrating the customer interest in converged infrastructure to build internal clouds. I know I’m making a bit of a causal leap here tying UCS and Nexus to cloud builds, but why would anyone buy premium-priced infrastructure to do IT the old way?

The dark side of building a cloud, though, is managing and orchestrating cloud resources on the back end, and that’s where Cloupia comes in. Building a cloud requires both physical and virtual infrastructure and requires a tool that can manage both. Cloupia’s CloudIgnite enables the automation of configuring and provisioning physical and virtual, converged infrastructure for sped-up deployments. The tool also helps track multi-customer deployments as well as the specific nuances of each deployment.

CloudGenie is another product that enables IT managers to administer the converged infrastructure from mobile devices, improving the real-time manageability of things like FlexPod.

The acquisition also signals a continued focus from Cisco on improving the manageability of Cisco products. It’s fair to say that in years gone by, Cisco gave management tools lip service but never really took them seriously. CCIEs preferred the mysticism that came with working with CLI, scripts and the like, making products like Cisco Works a throw in for a larger hardware deal. In fact, I remember my Cisco rep years ago giving me a copy of Cisco Works and saying "it’s just software."

Well, the world has changed and complexity is at an all-time high. Cisco has completely gutted Works and replaced it with a much more effective suite called "Prime." With regard to cloud, no matter how good an engineer you are, building and managing a cloud through cutting and pasting CLI commands just doesn’t scale. Cloupia does scale.

I certainly see the management area being a continued area of focus for Cisco. So while the Cloupia acquisition makes the news today, expect more to come.

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