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What's Behind Cisco's SIP Buy

Earlier this month, Cisco Systems went company-shopping again, this time snatching up Dynamicsoft for $55 million in cash. Officially, the acquisition gives Cisco a credible VoIP offering to sell to wireless and wireline vendors. Unofficially, it gives Cisco key expertise needed to further its enterprise VoIP solution.

Dynamicsoft is a 104-person company that makes carrier-grade VoIP servers aimed at enabling the creation of advanced voice and data services over wireless and wireline infrastructure. Cisco has long offered a carrier-grade Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) proxy server, but has lacked the feature server critical for delivering advanced services to those markets. The acquisition of Dynamicsoft is expected to provide Cisco with that portfolio.

But not without some pain. Cisco will likely have to further invest in fixing the internal code structure of Dynamicsoft's products. "A lot of times, given the choice to make long-term enhancements to the product that would make it more flexible, stable, and maintainable, we would instead be instructed to add a specific feature in the hope that it could be used to land a specific account," says an engineer close to Dynamicsoft.

More fundamental flaws in the code were ignored because the "marketing guys" couldn't see the advantage of addressing functions that weren't externally visible. The net effect was that it took a lot longer to add features to Dynamicsoft products.

How much longer is hard to quantify, according to the engineer. "My gut feeling is that had we spent a good six months doing those kinds of improvements, we could have made that time up within a year or so," he says. So instead of spending a couple of months to add a feature, he estimates that Dynamicsoft could have added the same feature in a matter weeks to a month.

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