Cisco to Acquire Tail-f Systems: What does it mean?

Earlier today, Cisco Announced their intent to acquire Tail-f Systems for $175 million dollars. Tail-f systems owns two products focusing on Network Device Configuration. The first product is known as NCS, or Network Control System. This product is a comprehensive platform to holistically manage a network and supports a wide range devices. The second product is known as ConfD and is used as the on-device user interface for many OEM vendors.

At Networking Field Day 7, Carl Moberg introduced Tail-f and made the following statement about their software–

“I’m trying to stay away from naming names here, but let me just tell you that if or when you log into [kinda] next generation or current generation hardware from some of the very large vendors, you will wind up in Tail-f software”

What could Cisco do with this acquisition? Some of the thoughts I have are–

  • Provide non-Cisco Customers an easier learning curve as they move to Cisco solutions
  • Build an SDN strategy that is more robust and includes the ability to manage other vendor’s products
  • Could their competitors become their customers? (not likely, but this acquisition could create some problems that need to be overcome)
  • Might owning Tail-f help alleviate any internal challenges Cisco has with providing (trial, NFR, learning) software that may contain ConfD

Disclaimer: Both Cisco and Tail-f have sponsored past Networking Field Day events. As a result, travel and other associated expenses related to attending sessions have been covered by these sponsoring vendors through GestaltIT. In some cases vendors may choose to provide delegates with marketing materials (cups, pens, tshirts, etc). Any deviation the site-wide disclaimer will be clearly noted at the end of the applicable article(s).

About Paul Stewart, CCIE 26009 (Security)

Paul is a Network and Security Engineer, Trainer and Blogger who enjoys understanding how things really work. With over 15 years of experience in the technology industry, Paul has helped many organizations build, maintain and secure their networks and systems.
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4 Responses to Cisco to Acquire Tail-f Systems: What does it mean?

  1. Pingback: Cisco to Acquire Tail-f Systems: What does it mean?

  2. Frank says:

    I can definitely say that as a shop chock-full of Cisco competitors (mostly Juniper), this acquisition movies tail-f *way* down on my to-do list. One of the parts I liked most about tail-f was the fact that they were third party, rather than tied to any one particular vendor. It’s very hard to believe Cisco (or any other vendor, for that matter) will continue to treat their competitors products the same as their own, and resist the temptation to add an extra hook here and their for a competitive advantage.

    • I think that is a very good point. I don’t think your position is unique. It will be interesting to see if some other existing or start-up company attempts to neutrally fill that space (specifically with regard to NCS). The feasibility of that depends on Cisco’s direction with Tail-f products.

  3. Tim says:

    Cisco has a history of buying vendor neutral, market leading solutions and then limiting them to Cisco only, and then not understanding why their market tanked (CS-MARS, I’m looking straight at you on this one). So yeah, this isn’t a good omen.

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