Cisco: The giant network squid

Over the last 27 months Cisco has made 25 acquisitions, spending billions to increase its footprint and share of wallet among customers. Since 1993, the company has scooped up over 115 companies.

Over the last 27 months Cisco has made 25 acquisitions, spending billions to increase its footprint and share of wallet among customers. Since 1993, the company has scooped up over 115 companies. Today, Cisco announced a definitive agreement to acquire on demand collaboration provider WebEx for $3.2 billion. WebEx did $380 million in revenue last year and claims 2.2 million registered users of its online collaboration service. 

Earlier this year, Cisco spent $830 million on Ironport, for its anti-spam and messaging compliance products and customers. For spare change, the company acquired Five Across' consumer-focused social networking technology. In 2006, Scientific-Atlanta, with set-top boxes and video distribution networks, was brought into the Cisco fold for nearly $7 billion, and in 2003 acquired Linksys, big in home and small business networking, for about $500 million in stock. And, the company still continues to acquire companies in its traditional networking space.

What does it all add up to? A giant networking squid that wants to get it tentacles on the billions of users and devices on the fast growing Internet. Similar to Sun's motto, "the network  is the computer," Cisco envisions the "network as a platform" for real-time interactions, and that it should power the network with everything from the routers and switches to VoIP calls and socially networked applications. No part of the stack seems to be out of bounds for Cisco as it evolves its network services platform. 

At this point, you have to ask who else Cisco has in its sights to buttress its converged Internet platform vision, as the network infrastructure inside Internet, now extended to services. Maybe the services business is looking more attractive longer term than selling routers and set-top boxes in an increasingly competitive market.

In a conference call following the WebEx acquisition announcement, Charlie Giancarlo, chief development officer at Cisco, said that subscription-based services like WebEx offer a new way to  do business across the product lines.

Cisco will look to add more collaborative applications and services, like WebEx, to combat Microsoft's strong play in unified communications, and integrate them into its voice, video and data network architecture. And, Cisco will go after big fish, perhaps a company such as VeriSign, which has core software pieces for Internet security and communications.

Below is the list of Cisco acquisitions since 2005 scraped off the Web site. 

NeoPath Networks
March 13, 2007 - NeoPath Networks is the leading provider of high-performance and highly scalable file storage management solutions. Cisco and NeoPath share a common vision of providing unique and flexible file storage management services to enterprise customers. In line with our Service-Oriented Network Architecture (SONA) strategy and vision, Cisco plans to integrate the NeoPath technology in future products with the goal of providing additional value added file services. This will benefit both our current file based solutions, such as Wide Area Application Services (WAAS), and our business partners’ file based solutions.
Market Opportunity: Storage
Reactivity, Inc.
February 21, 2007 - Reactivity is a leading XML (eXtensible Markup Language) gateway provider for organizations ranging from commercial enterprises to the Global 500. The acquisition demonstrates Cisco's commitment to the expanding Application Networking Services (ANS) Advanced Technology segment, which is an important part of Cisco's Service-Oriented Network Architecture (SONA) strategy and vision. Cisco ANS provides customers with shared application-aware services to improve the availability, performance, and security of applications delivered from the network platform. Reactivity complements and extends the capability of Cisco's ANS portfolio for these emerging application architectures.
Market Opportunity: Application Networking Services
Five Across, Inc.
February 8, 2007 - Five Across is a leading vendor in the social networking marketplace. The Five Across platform, Connect Community Builder, empowers companies to easily augment their websites with full-featured communities and user-generated content such as audio/video/photo sharing, blogs, podcasts, and profiles. These user-interaction functions help companies improve the interaction with their customers and overall customer experience on their websites. Social networking functions are of unique interest to media companies, sports leagues, affinity groups and any organization wishing to increase its interaction with its online constituency.
Market Opportunity: Consumer
IronPort Systems, Inc.
January 4, 2007 - IronPort is a leading provider of messaging security appliances, focusing on enterprise spam and spyware protection. Securing email, messaging and other sorts of content is of primary concern to enterprises and other organizations. As email and messaging are leading applications for use over the Internet, the acquisition of IronPort's industry-leading messaging and Web security solutions is a natural extension to Cisco's security portfolio. The security products and technology from IronPort add a rich and complementary suite of messaging solutions to Cisco's industry-leading threat mitigation, confidential communications, policy control, and management solutions.
Market Opportunity: Security

Tivella, Inc.

December 15, 2006 - Tivella is a leading provider of digital signage software and systems. Digital signage is an emerging technology that has the potential to transform the customer experience and to promote richer communications. Digital signage is quickly gaining traction as companies face a variety of challenges. These include revenue and growth, building and maintaining brand identity and customer loyalty, and effectively reaching target audiences with advertising and marketing. Companies conducting deployments of digital signage solutions have clearly demonstrated higher brand awareness and sales uplift by targeting relevant information to an audience near the point of purchase. Market Opportunity: Video
Greenfield Networks Inc.
November 13, 2006 - Greenfield Networks provides integrated circuits, hardware and software optimized for Ethernet packet processing that enables next-generation Metro Ethernet services. This technology is highly complementary to Cisco's existing line of Metro Ethernet products and will enable Cisco to improve time to market of carrier-class features for our service provider customers.
Market Opportunity: Routing & Switching
Orative Corporation
October 25, 2006 - Orative develops mobile software solutions that extend the communications and collaboration capabilities of the Cisco Unified Communications system to business mobile phone users. With Orative Enterprise Software, mobile phone users can coordinate conversations, collaborate with colleagues, view information on Unity voicemail messages, screen unwanted telephone calls and interruptions, and securely access personal and corporate phone books. Together, Cisco and Orative will transform the mobile phone into a true business device, using Cisco Unified CallManager for call control, Cisco MeetingPlace for collaboration and Cisco Unity as the voicemail platform.
Market Opportunity: Voice
Arroyo Video Solutions, Inc.
August 21, 2006 - The Arroyo solution is designed to deliver exceptional scalability, service availability and operational simplicity - offering a highly extensible platform for video-on-demand today and emerging time-shifted services in the future. The integration of the Arroyo platform into the Cisco IP-NGN (Next Generation Network) architectural framework will help enable carriers to accelerate the creation and distribution of network delivered entertainment, interactive media and advertising services across the growing portfolio of televisions, personal computers, mobile handsets and emerging media capable devices in our increasingly connected lives.
Market Opportunity: Video
Meetinghouse Data Communications
July 6, 2006 - Meetinghouse provides a client-side 802.1X supplicant security software that allows enterprise customers to restrict network access to only authorized users and/or host devices attempting to gain access to networked resources through both wired and wireless media. When integrated with Cisco's existing security portfolio, Meetinghouse's AEGIS SecureConnect products will enable Cisco to provide a single unified wired and wireless client to enterprise customers that will help them reduce operational costs by simplifying the security management of a broad array of host devices and operating systems.
Market Opportunity: Security, Wireless
Metreos Corporation
June 8, 2006 - Metreos is a leading provider of IP communication application development and management environments. The acquisition will help Cisco's ecosystem of third party technology partners, systems integrators, value-added resellers, and customers build and deliver applications on Cisco's Unified Communications System. Metreos' technology has proven itself in enterprise environments as a platform for integrating Cisco's Unified Communications System with enterprise business applications.
Market Opportunity: Voice
Audium Corporation
June 8, 2006 - Audium is a leading provider of VoiceXML speech self-service application development and management environments. The acquisition will enable enterprises to easily build automated voice response applications that are integrated with not only their converged IP network but also work well within their Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) enabling the use of common services across the network. Leveraging the intelligence of the network, Audium's technology further strengthens Cisco's SONA and provides a platform for enterprises to integrate their business process workflow with their speech self-service applications.
Market Opportunity: Voice
SyPixx Networks, Inc.
March 7, 2006 - SyPixx Networks offers network-centric video surveillance software and hardware that enable existing analog video surveillance systems to operate as part of an open IP network. This acquisition will enable Cisco to deliver video surveillance as part of an Intelligent Converged Environment.
Market Opportunity: Physical Security

Intellishield Alert Manager
Nov. 29, 2005 - Intellishield Alert Manager is a web-based security intelligence service, providing daily information to customers about information security threats and IT product vulnerabilities that affect the entire corporate information technology domain. The service is delivered through a continually updated web portal, XML feeds and email subscriptions. The ability to research, understand and advise customers on all types of threats and vulnerabilities is core to Cisco's Self-Defending Network strategy. Intellishield Alert Manager will become part of the Cisco MySDN security intelligence Web site.
Market Opportunity: Security
Scientific-Atlanta, Inc.
Nov. 18, 2005 - Scientific-Atlanta is a leading global provider of set-top boxes, end-to-end video distribution networks and video system integration. The combined entity creates a world class, end-to-end triple play solution for carrier networks and the digital home. In addition, upon closure, the market opportunities represented by this acquisition will become part of Cisco's Advanced Technology portfolio.
Market Opportunity: Video
Nemo Systems
Sept. 30, 2005 - Nemo Systems has developed leading-edge technology in the network memory space that will offer enhanced performance on Cisco's core switching platforms and service modules. Once incorporated into Cisco's products, the technology will allow customers to scale network systems and line card bandwidth while reducing the overall cost of high-performance networking systems.
Market Opportunity: Switching
Sheer Networks, Inc.
July 26, 2005 - Sheer Networks is a pioneer in the development of intelligent network and service management products for service providers and large enterprises. Sheer's technology can adapt to network changes easily, scale to large networks, and help extend new technologies and services to simplify the difficult task of monitoring and maintaining complex networks.
Market Opportunity: Network Management
KiSS Technology A/S
July 22, 2005 - KiSS is a leading technology provider for networked entertainment devices and has a product portfolio that includes home video products such as networked DVD players and networked DVD recorders. KiSS's technology platform also has the capability to extend to other consumer electronics products and will help Linksys develop a unique, networked entertainment product suite.
Market Opportunity: Home Networking
NetSift, Inc.
June 27, 2005 - The NetSift acquisition will help Cisco to accelerate the integration of additional packet processing capabilities into future core Cisco platforms, such as modular switching. NetSift provides Cisco with a unique solution to deep packet processing challenges, valuable intellectual property, and a core team with a long history of algorithmic innovations supporting high-speed packet processing.
Market Opportunity: Security
M.I. Secure Corporation
June 14, 2005 - M.I. Secure is focused on the development of advanced features and functionality for security and VPN solutions. M.I. Secure brings unique security technology expertise and a team of talented and proven security architects to Cisco. Security is one of Cisco's key advanced technologies and an integral part of Cisco's overall product strategy.
Market Opportunity: Security
FineGround Networks, Inc.
May 26, 2005 - FineGround is a leading provider of network appliances that accelerate, secure, and monitor application delivery while minimizing bandwidth usage and maximizing infrastructure capacity in the data center. By integrating FineGround's technology with Cisco's products, Cisco will provide customers with advanced application-acceleration across networks for secure and optimized delivery of web-based applications.
Market Opportunity: Security
Vihana, Inc.
May 23, 2005 - Vihana is focused on the development of efficient semiconductor solutions for the computer and communications industry. In terms of vision, Cisco and Vihana both recognize the importance of custom ASIC technology in providing leading technology solutions to customers. In the short-term, Vihana will provide needed high speed, custom silicon design expertise and will accelerate Cisco's innovation in more flexible, programmable ASICs, and for the long term, Vihana's technology will be integrated across multiple platforms across technology groups.
Market Opportunity: ASICs
Sipura Technology, Inc.
Apr. 26, 2005 - This represents Cisco's first acquisition for its Linksys division. Sipura is a leader in consumer voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology and is a key technology provider for Linksys' current line of VoIP networking devices. In addition to Sipura's valuable technology and customer relationships, their experienced team with extensive VoIP expertise will help build a foundation for Linksys' internal research and development capabilities in voice, video and other markets.
Market Opportunity: Home Networking
Topspin Communications, Inc.
Apr. 14, 2005 - Topspin is the leading provider of intelligent server fabric switches. Server fabric switching provides a low latency, high performance fabric for server virtualization, clustered enterprise applications, and grid/utility computing. Topspin delivers a compelling return on investment by promoting resource flexibility, and dramatically reducing equipment and management costs. This acquisition strengthens Cisco's ability to provide customers with specialized networking technology and services to allow them to build their data centers in a flexible, grid-like fashion.
Market Opportunity: Server Fabric Switching
Airespace, Inc.
Jan. 12, 2005 - Airespace is a provider of wireless local area networking ("WLAN") systems, which provide a secure, flexible, and cost effective solution for enterprise and commercial customers. Airespace's product portfolio will expand Cisco's WLAN solution portfolio, accelerating delivery of key WLAN features and capabilities for Cisco's entire customer base. Airespace's product portfolio includes WLAN controllers, Access Points, WLAN Management and Location Software, and Security capabilities, including IDS. The acquisition will allow Cisco to address a broader set of market segments and integrate advanced capabilities into current Cisco products.
Market Opportunity: WLAN