Cisco Lifts The Veil On SDN Spin-In Insiemi


Heading into the Cisco Partner Summit, Cisco had stayed relatively quiet on the subject of Insiemi, the software-defined networking startup it was rumored to be investing in as a potential "spin-in."

No longer. Thanks to ongoing questions about Cisco's role and intentions with Insiemi, the company's top executives have been offering details about the company throughout the Partner Summit, including that Cisco has poured $100 million into the business so far with the right to potentially acquire the company for $750 million more on top of that.

Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers confirmed these details during a press roundtable this week.

"About a year ago we began to see an opportunity in a market around programmability and application-aware networks and networks aware of applications," Chambers said. "That will come out in multiple forms."

[Related: Partner Summit Awaits: 10 Big Questions For Cisco]

Cisco has a multi-pronged approach to the market, Chambers said, identifying hardware, software and Cisco's ASIC technology as competitive advantages.

He didn't provide additional details except that Insiemi is in early stages and that the Insiemi management team -- Mario Mazzola, Prem Jain and Luca Cafiero -- has been "remarkably successful for us."

Mazzola, Jain and Cafiero are well-known for being involved in previous Cisco spin-in ventures -- that is, companies funded by Cisco and headed by highly regarded Cisco-associated engineers, that Cisco would later acquire -- such as Andiamo Systems, a storage networking company, and Nuova Systems, in which its core technology became Cisco's Nexus switch after its acquisition by Cisco in 2008.

Insiemi appears to fit that model, too, and arrives as questions increasingly come up about Cisco's role in the SDN space. Support for SDN -- and for a range of startup companies tackling products based on OpenFlow and other network virtualization-centric technologies -- has grown, and venture capital firms are taking an interest in various startups such as Pertino, which earlier this month closed $8.85 million in a Series A round.

NEXT: Insiemi And Cisco's Targeted Strategy