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Cisco's LineSider buy big for IT prize

Ability to orchestrate virtual data center and cloud networks could be key to IT ambitions

By Jim Duffy on Wed, 12/01/10 - 5:15pm.

This week's acquisition of LineSider, the small Massachusetts software company, fills a vital piece in one of Cisco's three strategic pillars: virtualization. LineSider makes network provisioning software for virtual data centers and clouds, delegating and enforcing policies among VMs and physical assets.

Tuning the LineSider OverDrive software to Cisco routers and switches would allow them to control network access, security and services across logical and physical construct. Policies are defined according to business rules aligning the relationship between users and applications, and computing and storage resources.

LineSider also makes an IP-based services management product sold to OEMs. 3Com partnered with LineSider for virtual services management on the 3Com Open Services Networking router. Cisco and EMC are also partners. EMC and Orange are also customers.

OverDrive is designed to enable routers and switches - even the Cisco UCS servers with vSwitches -- to perform the tasks of separate appliances deployed specifically for network access, or security, or CoS/QoS, etc. So it might have some space and power benefits in addition to facilitating service flexibility.

The software is targeted at both public and private clouds.

Cisco did not divulge what amount it plans to pay for LineSider. But the ability to acquire and then assimilate the people and technology for cloud orchestration is significant. Cisco is jumping into data center transformations as its own transformation, from a network plumbing supplier to an IT architect. The ability of Cisco products like Nexus switches and UCS servers to map network service policies to provisioning might be a vital component to the success of Cisco's IT ambitions.

LineSider will be integrated within Cisco's Network Management Technology Group, under Jesper Andersen. Network management has always been a challenge for Cisco and the success of Cisco's acquisitions in this space have been spotty. LineSider might be one that has to succeed in order for Cisco to succeed in IT.

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