Cisco slings simoleons at software-defined networking biz 6Wind

White box switching? We've heard of it

As the John Chambers and Chuck Robbins worldwide roadshow grinds on, Cisco has dipped another tentative toe in the dangerous waters of bare metal switching, with an investment in Parisian software vendor 6Wind.

6Wind's key offering, the 6WINDGate packet processing software, is pitched at the bare metal market. The company name-checks a bagful of Cisco's competitors including Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Hitachi, HP, Ericsson-LG, NEC and Nokia.

The software-defined network (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV) vendor first shipped product in 2007.

The company has also built VM-based accelerator, routing and IPSec products based on its packet processor.

The investment, part of a broader strategy to invest in the French market, looks like a small shift in Cisco's attitudes to the white box market. In May, outgoing CEO John Chambers said the company had already dealt with the white box threat.

The deal was announced while the Chuck-and-Chambers roadshow passed through France, with the pair meeting President Francois Hollande to flesh out the details of a US$100 million investment in the country's startup sector announced in February.

During the tour, Cisco also announced an Internet of Things partnership with French company Actility, a machine-to-machine specialist.

While bare metal is officially anathema to Cisco, the considerable gravity exerted by customers like Verizon and AT&T are dragging it into a new orbit. Cisco has been tagged in both Verizon's SDN transition, and in AT&T's “Domain 2.0” strategy to virtualise 75 per cent of its network architecture by 2020. ®

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