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Cisco gobbles Insieme, belches software-defined network clouds

We'll break down hardware barriers - provided it's our hardware, says IT giant

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Cisco has unveiled the secret weapon it'll use to assault the software-defined networking world – a new blob of technology from startup Insieme to converge network hardware and virtualized applications.

The IT goliath said its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) lineup – as discussed on our Speaking in Tech podcast earlier today – will give sysadmins a single platform for configuring Nexus switches to connect up virtualized systems.

By providing a software-defined network, Cisco believes its customers (who happen to be using the newest Cisco switches, of course) can bring IT suppliers together under a single management and provisioning system. ACI will include a Application Policy Infrastructure Controller management tool and a set of open-source extensions to integrate third-party virtualization and cloud infrastructure technologies.

And Microsoft, Red Hat and VMware are apparently working to plug their hypervisors into ACI.

Speaking in New York this morning, Cisco boss John Chambers reiterated his company's aim to eliminate the need for customers to manage and maintain virtualized environments separately from their hardware infrastructure.

"They are challenged, the IT is so complex," Chambers said, "the vendors they buy from are in silos, it is almost inflexible in many ways."

Upstart Insieme Networks, freshly assimilated by Cisco, is understood to have contributed to Cisco's new software-defined networking beast.

Insieme executive vice-president of marketing Soni Jiandani said the integration with other vendors and cooperation with developers through the open-source effort will keep the project a community effort rather than a solely Cisco campaign.

"The dev community has the opportunity to take this and those customers that want to embrace the work of the open source community can take advantage of this," she said.

The eight-slot Nexus 9508 switch is the first bit of kit to support ACI. Cisco plans to follow this up with the release of four and 16-slot models in the early months of next year. ®

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