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Why Cisco Is Buying Isovalent

Cisco Hq2

By: R. Scott Raynovich

Cisco will acquire Isovalent, a six-year-old startup that has been a leader in bringing open-source cloud-native networking technology to the enterprise mainstream. Terms of the deal were unannounced, though it is expected to close in the third quarter of fiscal 2024. (Cisco closed its first fiscal quarter 2024 on October 28, 2023.)

Isovalent was founded in 2017 by CTO Thomas Graf and CEO Dan Wendlandt. Graf is well-known in cloud engineering circles and had worked at both Cisco and Red Hat (IBM) prior to founding the company. Wendlandt, a longtime contributor to open-source communities, was a founding employee at cloud networking pioneer Nicira, which was acquired by VMware in 2012.

Isovalent is best known as one of the leading contributors to the Cilium open-source project. Cilium is one of the most popular technologies for networking Kubernetes clusters with security and monitoring features. Cilium is based on extended Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF), which helps streamline the speed, efficiency, and visibility of programs that use Kubernetes-based microservices. It does this by running directly inside the Linux kernel. In general, it’s geeky stuff.

Cisco had been an investor in Isovalent, which specializes in commercializing Cilium.

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