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Cisco ContainerX buy a step toward readying ACI for the cloud

Cisco's acquisition of startup ContainerX provides the networking company with technology to help ready ACI for container orchestration in the cloud.

Cisco's acquisition of container management startup ContainerX is the latest move in the company's strategy to provide technology for assigning network resources to cloud applications.

Cisco announced this week its intent to acquire the eight-person company, based in San Jose, Calif. Cisco did not disclose financial details.

"With today's announcement, the ContainerX and Cisco team will work together to continue to develop a comprehensive cloud-native stack for our customers," Rob Salvagno, the head of Cisco's acquisition and venture investment team, said in a blog post.

Cisco executives have said its software-defined networking architecture, called Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), can eventually provide policy-driven container management and orchestration.

Cisco moved in that direction last November with the introduction of an open source project, called Contiv. Its purpose is to build technology for assigning network, storage, security and compute resources to containerized applications.

ContainerX is another step toward making ACI a cloud infrastructure manager, said Kip Compton, vice president of Cisco's cloud platform and service organization. "We believe there's an opportunity to better automate and integrate [containerized] applications with the infrastructure."

ContainerX a first for Cisco

ContainerX will be Cisco's first acquisition in the container market. Containers are packaged applications that run on a shared operating system, which is typically Linux. Docker is a popular open source program used to create containers.

Cisco believes containers running microservices will eventually dominate the application layer of cloud environments deployed by service providers and enterprises. A microservice is a single module of a large business application. Developers build applications by stringing together a group of microservices.

Companies running cloud environments are using containers to take advantage of their ability to provide security for east-west traffic within a data center. Also, infrastructure managers can increase or decrease the number of the application modules quickly to meet demand fluctuations for cloud services.

Cisco SDN rival VMware also announced cloud-related news this week. The company introduced the Cloud Foundation platform for public and private clouds. The platform comprises the company's virtualization software for servers and storage, and its SDN product, called NSX. VMware introduced Cloud Foundation at the VMworld conference in Las Vegas.

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