• 06/17/2014
    3:00 PM
    Marcia Savage
  • Marcia Savage
  • News
  • Connect Directly
  • Rating: 
    0 votes
    Vote up!
    Vote down!

Cisco To Buy Orchestration Software Startup Tail-f

The networking giant bulks up its cloud portfolio with the $175 million acquisition of Swedish maker of multi-vendor network management software.

Cisco said Tuesday that it is acquiring Tail-f Systems, a Swedish network orchestration software supplier, for $175 million to bolster its cloud strategy.

Tail-f specializes in multi-vendor orchestration software for traditional and virtualized networks, according to Cisco. The software is designed to help service providers automate network provisioning and management.

Cisco plans to add Tail-f's employees to its cloud and virtualization group. The deal, which includes cash and retention-based incentives, is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

"Tail-f will help achieve our goal of aiding customers in their quest to simplify and automate network management, enabling service innovation and deployment acceleration," Hilton Romanski, senior vice president and head of business development at Cisco, wrote in a blog post. "The acquisition of Tail-f accelerates Cisco's cloud virtualization strategy of delivering software that increases value to our customers' applications and services, while supporting Cisco's long-standing commitment to open standards, architectures, and multi-vendor environments."

Tail-f's customers include major service providers such as AT&T and Deutsche Telekom. In February, AT&T named Tail-f as one of the networking suppliers for its Domain 2.0 strategy.

Romanski praised Tail-f's work in developing and implementing the NETCONF protocol and YANG data modeling language, which he called the "leading industry approach to simplifying and automating networks."


PacketU observations

Paul Stewart posted a blog on Packet University with some thoughts on what the acquisition of Tail-f may mean for Cisco. What do readers think about the deal?

Re: PacketU observations

While NCS is the jewel Cisco will want out of this acquisition it will be interesting to see how they maintain the ConfD business that has helped NetConf and Yang become a reality and, I assume, still make up the vast majority of Tail-f's customer base. I can't imagine the equipment vendors using ConfD will be comfortable with the new owners.

For Cisco, a software product like ConfD is a new beast and will require very different business practices to remain successful. Cisco has made steps in supporting multivendor networks with Cariden and other products but this takes it to another level. It will be interesting to see if the rest of the market players are ready for it or if it stalls the adoption of NetConf and Yang.

Answers by

Re: PacketU observations

Cisco says this deal illustrates its commitment to openness and multi-vendor environments, but time will tell. Perhaps things have changed for Cisco.

Re: PacketU observations

Since, estimates predict that the number of connections are going to increase (some put it at 50 billion by 2020), the Cloud is going to house more data, and enterprise is going to require greater network resources, because of video collaboration, etc. I feel Cisco would lose market value if they revert on their commitment to openness.  

Re: PacketU observations

"I feel Cisco would lose market value if they revert on their commitment to openness."

As might the competition's market value if they rely on ConfD for their own product delivery too.

You could argue that this isn't really all about ConfD in any case. As I muttered over on my own blog:

"AT&T has been pushing its Domain 2.0 initiative, and recently named Tail-F as one of its Domain 2.0 suppliers, which is a huge deal for Tail-F. And now it's a huge deal for Cisco too, who by this acquisition are back in the door with AT&T (they aren't one of the other five named companies)."

This is a big deal for Cisco, who just got cut out the loop with AT&T because AT&T apparently sees x86 NFV as the way forward.

Re: PacketU observations

@Rubyliu, good assessment, I am wondering, what are the business practices/models (open-source vs. proprietary?) that could cause friction in ConfD adaption along with NETCONF and YANG, and not to occur in a harmonious fashion?


If you're interested in learning more about NETCONF, stay tuned. We'll be publishing an article that explains what it does and how it works soon.