Cisco Goes Holiday Shopping, Acquires Cilium Project Creator Isovalent

Cisco Goes Holiday Shopping, Acquires Cilium Project Creator Isovalent

Cisco Acquires Isovalent and Cilium Project

Cisco has acquired Isovalent, the startup behind the open source project Cilium, which was recently promoted to full project status by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Cilium is a tool for networking, observability, and security that has gained significant attention in the cloud-native community.

Origins and Popularity of eBPF and Cilium

The founders of Isovalent worked on Cilium, leveraging the capabilities of the extended Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF), for about a year before officially forming the company. Their goal was to make eBPF more popular, a technology that allows sandboxed programs to run in privileged contexts, such as within the operating system kernel. This empowers application developers to enhance operating systems with new features at runtime.

The Adoption of eBPF by Cloud Services

eBPF’s networking, observability, and security features have been widely embraced by hyperscalers for managing communications across their cloud infrastructures. Services like Google Kubernetes Engine, Google Anthos, and Amazon EKS Anywhere all utilize eBPF, highlighting its importance in modern cloud solutions.

Why Cisco’s Investment in Isovalent Matters

Cisco, with its focus on networking, observability, and security, saw Isovalent’s work aligning with its core businesses and thus invested early in the company. By acquiring Isovalent, Cisco now takes full control and strengthens its capabilities in the cloud-native space.

Cisco’s Commitment to Open Source and Future Plans

Tom Gillis, SVP and GM of Cisco’s Security Business Group, reassures that Cisco will not alter the open source status of Cilium or other free and open source software (FOSS) projects that Isovalent contributes to. Instead, Cisco plans to form an independent advisory board to guide its contributions, ensuring alignment with the open source community’s needs.

Enhancing Multicloud Security and Networking with Cilium Mesh

Cisco also recognizes the value in Isovalent’s multicloud security and networking approach, especially with the Cilium Mesh complementing Cisco’s own solutions. Gillis suggests that Cisco’s threat intelligence platform, Talos, in combination with Isovalent’s expertise, will offer advanced protection for workloads across various cloud environments, an essential capability for securely managing applications distributed over multiple clouds and on-premises infrastructures.

Leadership and Vision in Multicloud Security and Networking

Thomas Graf, CTO & Co-Founder of Isovalent and important figure in the eBPF community, notes Cisco’s clear commitment to maintain and expand upon Isovalent’s products and open source strategy. Cisco’s dedication to solving complex challenges in cloud native, security, and networking is further emphasized with Isovalent’s team joining Cisco’s governance and technical leadership.

Cisco’s Strategy for Cloud-Native Services and Subscription Models

As part of its strategic direction, Cisco is transitioning as many of its products as possible to cloud-based platforms. This shift not only encourages customers to engage with subscription services but also reflects Cisco’s recognition of the necessity for large-scale cloud delivery to manage modern network infrastructures effectively.

Financial Terms and Timeline of Acquisition

While specific financial details remain confidential, Cisco anticipates that the acquisition of Isovalent will be finalized between March and May of 2024, which falls in the third quarter of Cisco’s current financial year.

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