Cisco Moves into the Container Market with Latest Acquisition

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Networking giant Cisco (CSCO) has made its first big step into the container market. Today, the company announced its intent to acquire virtual container startup ContainerX. The terms are not disclosed.

ContainerX, which is based in San Jose, Calif., says its technology provides the capability to control containers running under Linux or Windows. In addition, it is compatible with bare metal or virtual machines and can be deployed on a public or private cloud.

READ MORE: Cisco Cuts Workforce by 7% to Speed Transition to Software

Containers simplify deployment of applications and operating systems for developers on the back end, and Cisco’s entry into the emerging market is part of its larger strategy to establish a firm foothold in a cloud-based ecosystem. However, the company’s foray into adding administrative capabilities to container technology comes into a somewhat crowded market, with several players such as Red Hat and Docker offering similar tools.

“Another key part of our cloud strategy at Cisco is helping our service provider customers with network function virtualization. They’re actually virtualizing various functions in their network and trying to virtualize software to gain a lot more flexibility and agility,” Kip Compton, VP of Cisco’s Cloud Platform and Services organization, told The VAR Guy. “So we see this as a sort of technology and platform ingredient for us for a number of our customer segments when it comes to their cloud deployments.”

Cisco hopes to provide networking and security capabilities to ContainerX technology that will enable it to reach an enterprise grade status for enterprise NFVs, Compton says.

ContainerX will surely benefit from Cisco’s vast partner network and established relationships, but its CEO, Kiran Kamity, was frank about his hesitations in a blog post on the acquisition. “I write this note with a feeling of unfettered excitement coupled with gut-wrenching anxiety,” he wrote. “As with any acquisition, there are a few things we need to figure out as we join forces with Cisco.”

Like many traditional IT bellwethers, Cisco has been actively acquiring new technologies in order to compete in emerging markets. This is the sixth buy Cisco has made this year. In the last year since Chuck Robbins became CEO, the company has made 16 acquisitions, predominately in security and software-as-a-service (SaaS).

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“We’ve pivoted our acquisition strategy to focus on security and software and cloud. You can see that especially over the last year,” says Compton. “We think our acquisitions obviously complement our internal research and development and enable us to bring more and better products to market more quickly. That’s a key benefit for our partners, as well.”

Two weeks ago, Cisco announced plans to eliminate approximately 5,500 jobs, or about 7 percent of its workforce, in order to focus on emerging markets such as security, the Internet of things, software-defined data centers and the cloud.

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