As Cisco Relevant Products/Services continues on its acquisition spree, the networking giant has targeted a privately held supplier of network Relevant Products/Services planning, design, and traffic management solutions for telecommunications service providers. Cisco plans to acquire Cariden Technologies for $141 million in cash and retention-based incentives in exchange for all shares of Cariden.

Cisco sees a clear trend in the telecom market: global service providers are converging their Internet Protocol and optical networks to address exploding Internet and mobile Relevant Products/Services traffic growth and complex traffic patterns. By acquiring the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Cariden, Cisco said it could allow providers to increase visibility, programmability and efficiency of their converged networks, while speeding service.

"The Cariden acquisition reinforces Cisco's commitment to offering service providers the technologies they need to optimize and monetize their networks, and ultimately grow their businesses," said Surya Panditi, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Service Provider Networking Group.

"Given the widespread convergence of IP and optical networks, Cariden's technology will help carriers more efficiently manage bandwidth, network traffic and intelligence Relevant Products/Services. This acquisition signals the next phase in Cisco's packet and optical convergence strategy and further strengthens our ability to lead this market transition in networking."

How Cariden Fits In

Cariden's capacity Relevant Products/Services planning and management tools for Internet Protocol and Multi-Protocol Label Switching networks have been deployed by many of the leading fixed- and mobile-network operators. Cisco will integrate those tools into its Cisco's Service Provider Networking Group so it can offer multilayer modeling and optimization of optical transport and IP/MPLS networks.

Cariden's products and technology will advance Cisco's nLight technology for IP and optical convergence. Cisco said the acquisition also supports its Open Network Environment strategy by providing sophisticated wide area networking orchestration capabilities. These capabilities promise service providers the ability to improve both the programmability of their networks and the utilization of existing network assets across the IP and optical transport layers.

Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, said the deal appears to be part of Cisco's larger Software-Defined Network initiative, albeit on the telco side.

"One of the things that's clear, whether it's enterprise Relevant Products/Services or telco, greater programmability is needed," Kerravala told us. "Cariden offers a broad set of life cycle management tools, project design, project management to allow greater network efficiency."

The Network's Lifecycle

As Kerravala sees it, part of the challenge in the network management realm is that the network hasn't been treated as if it has its own lifecycle. Network admins are not, therefore, looking at how to optimize the network over its lifetime.

"Proper planning tends to get done when the network is deployed but then once the environment is up and running that should probably be something that's done periodically every six months or year to make sure it's optimized," Kerravala said.

"In an effort to help telco customers have an efficient, resilient network, Cisco is looking to provide a lot of those tools to make that possible. It would make sense that Cisco would want to own that instead of working with partners to provide the tools."

Cariden employees will be integrated into Cisco's Service Provider Networking Group, reporting to Shailesh Shukla, vice president and general manager of the company's Software and Applications Group. The acquisition is expected to be completed in the second quarter of Cisco's fiscal year 2013.