Cisco Snapping Up CliQr For $260 Million To Better Manage Hybrid Clouds

Cisco Tuesday disclosed plans to acquire cloud management startup CliQr for $260 million in a move it says will accelerate hybrid cloud adoption and bolster its own software-defined networking strategy.

The deal, disclosed just hours before CEO Chuck Robbins is set to deliver a keynote address to 2,200 solution providers at the 2016 Cisco Partner Summit in San Diego, provides Cisco channel partners with data center orchestration technology for managing public, private and hybrid clouds and moving workloads between them.

"The goal here is to enable the market to move towards the hybrid cloud, keeping in mind that a lot of our customers have existing data centers and they have to manage all of this diverse infrastructure and all these applications," said Soni Jiandani, senior vice president of Cisco's Insieme business unit, in an exclusive interview with CRN.

Cisco plans to put the Santa Clara, Calif.-based startup's products into the hands of all channel partners that carry its Application Centric Infrastructure Authorized Technology Provider (ACI ATP) designation in the next 60 to 90 days, backed by a full complement of channel enablement resources and financial incentives, Jiandani said.

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"Our intent is to make sure we can reach out to all our ACI customers through these channel partners, and directly -- and we have around 1,400 of them -- and show them how they can further accelerate their deployments of ACI with this tool."

The vendor also plans to integrate CliQr as part of its Cisco One Enterprise Cloud Suite, so solution providers will have the technology available as part of integrated cloud stack for all of Cisco's data center product lines, she said.

"Their model, which is application defined policy-driven orchestration software, is very complimentary to what we started with our own software-defined networking Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) for the data center, which is policy driven and application-centric," said Jiandani.

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco expects the deal to close during its third fiscal quarter (which runs until the end of April) and plans to bring on about 100 CliQr employees.

"Our channel partners have a huge opportunity here," said Jiandani. "This product has plug-and-play attributes that you can really set up a proof of concept and offer it either as-a-Service or as an on-premise solution."

She said CliQr also has the ability to allow customers to manage everything from a single pane, "whether the application is a classic application or whether it's being consumed as a Platform-as-a-Service layer or consumed over the public cloud."

CliQr, who was recently named in CRN's 2016 Cloud 100 list, has developed a single platform for modeling, deploying and managing applications across physical, virtual and cloud environments. Last year, the company secured $20 million in a Series C investment round from investors including Google Ventures and Polaris Partners while the company experienced rapid growth driven by higher hybrid cloud adoption rates.

Cisco said it has also invested in CliQr and has been working with the startup as an ecosystem technology partner for nearly two years. Nearly all of CliQr's roughly 30 channel partners are also Cisco partners, including companies such as Trace3 and World Wide Technology, said David Cope, CliQr's executive vice president of development and CMO.

CliQr's technology is available either as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or in a dedicated software deployment model, Cope said

"As channel partners create these application profiles for customer engagement, they can actually save these profiles and start to leverage them and build up a library of applications profiles that can be just tweaked from one engagement to the next engagement allowing them to drive efficiencies and profitability in their services engagements," said Cope. "We're the only combined solution now that allows you to create this simple application profile, and with a click, get that end-to-end automation."

CliQr was founded in 2010 by former VMware veterans Gaurav Manglik and Tenry Fu. It's competitors include VMware, RightScale and Scalr, but Cope said its rivals rely on a siloed approach that requires custom scripts or individual blueprints between each application and a given cloud environment.

"VMware sees that it has got to be all about the application and they also believe in this notion of application blueprints, but their blueprints are siloed," said Cope. "So there is a blueprint for SAP on (Microsoft) Azure, SAP on Rackspace, SAP on Amazon. When you have this siloed approach it really makes hybrid-cloud use cases hard because you don’t have that true portability between environments."

Solution providers do not need to be application experts to work with CliQr, Cope said.

"A partner doesn't have to have specific application knowledge -- that's the beauty. They have to be able to work with their end-user customer that has knowledge of the application to graphically model the topology of the profile of these apps, and once that's done, it can be moved to any environment."