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Review the major networking acquisitions of 2021

When a networking vendor announces plans to acquire another company, most people take notice. Explore which vendors made moves in 2021 and what those purchases mean.

Review the major networking acquisitions of 2021

Cisco led the charge in networking acquisitions throughout 2021, announcing and closing on seven deals. The vendor spread its vision to multiple technology areas, looking at routed optical networking, Webex integration, security and support for Kubernetes, and cloud-native applications.

After months of legal disputes over regulatory approval, Cisco finally closed on its deal with Acacia Communications. Cisco ultimately spent $4.5 billion for the optical routing company, almost $2 billion over the amount it said it would pay in July 2019.

May 2021 was a busy month for Cisco, as it announced its intent to acquire three companies: Sedona Systems, Kenna Security and Socio Labs. While Cisco didn't disclose the financial terms of the deals, a report from Calcalist estimated the vendor spent around $100 million for Sedona Systems, an optical networking provider. Cisco has plans to integrate Sedona's network automation platform with its routed optical networking portfolio.

Juniper rounds out its data center portfolio

Juniper Networks continued its spending spree following its previous acquisitions of Mist Systems and 128 Technology in April 2019 and October 2020, respectively. Juniper announced its plans to buy Apstra, a network automation provider, in December 2020 and finalized the deal in 2021.

According to industry analyst Tom Nolle, Juniper's purchase of Apstra rounds out its vision for improved end-to-end experience.

"Add in Apstra, and you can extend that visibility, assurance, monitoring and support throughout the total scope of the experience, from the application and data center out to the user," Nolle wrote in a CIMI Corp. blog post.

While Juniper didn't disclose the financial terms of the deal, Nolle wrote that financial experts said the vendor paid under $400 million. In May 2021, Juniper introduced its first Apstra release to support VMware virtual networks, Software for Open Networking in the Cloud and open source networking.

Surprising move by Ericsson

While Cisco made more acquisitions than other networking vendors, Ericsson paid the most in a single purchase, among the deals that disclosed financial terms. In its purchase of Vonage, Ericsson is paying $6.2 billion in a move that surprised -- and somewhat perplexed -- industry analysts.

Ericsson said it plans to capitalize on Vonage's platform to expand and supplement its 5G infrastructure. Vonage's developers will get access to network APIs that enable them to build global offerings, said Börje Ekholm, president and CEO of Ericsson, in a press release.

The expected Vonage acquisition follows Ericsson's purchase of Cradlepoint in November 2020. Ericsson spent $1.1 billion in the deal, with plans to incorporate Cradlepoint's wireless WAN edge technology into its wireless portfolio.

Vendors continue looking at SD-WAN and SASE

The software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) space saw a continued string of acquisitions throughout 2021, with vendors focusing on managed services and security capabilities.

Aryaka announced its agreement to buy Secucloud, a cloud-based security provider, in May 2021. Aryaka said it made the move to round out its Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) architecture. In December 2021, the company launched Prime, its first SASE offering built from Secucloud technology.

In August 2021, Extreme Networks revealed its plans to buy Ipanema, a division of Infovista, for $73 million. The vendor said it would use Ipanema to expand its ExtremeCloud portfolio with SD-WAN and security. The same month, Comcast Business announced its intent to purchase Masergy, expecting to integrate its managed SD-WAN, unified communications as a service and cloud security capabilities.

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