Cisco adds to its automation pitch with Sedona Systems acquisition

Ray Le Maistre
By Ray Le Maistre

May 12, 2021

  • Cisco is acquiring Sedona Systems
  • Sedona has developed a multi-vendor, multi-layer network controller
  • The NetFusion controller enables automation of the optical and packet transport layers
  • Cisco will add NetFusion to its Converged SDN Transport architecture 

Cisco Systems is acquiring programmable network technology specialist Sedona Systems for an undisclosed sum, the giant network systems vendor has announced in this blog authored by Kevin Wollenweber, Vice President of Product Management in the Service Provider Network Systems business at Cisco. 

Sedona, which has its headquarters in California and its R&D facilities in Tel Aviv, Israel, was founded about seven years ago and had raised about $20 million in funding, with Intel Capital leading its Series B round of $13.6 million in 2016. Financial details of the Cisco acquisition have not been revealed, but Israeli business media have reported a price tag of around $100 million.   

Sedona’s focus was always on the development of a multi-vendor, multi-domain controller that enables operators to automate the configuration, provisioning and activation of the optical and packet layers of a communications network and, while the R&D process was long and tough, it gained a lot of supporters in the operator community and scored some key telco account wins, most notably at Verizon.

Now, though, it’s hard to imagine that any network operator is going to be able to run its networks efficiently in the near future without being able to automate its network management functions end-to-end, from the transport network all the way into the homes and buildings of its customers: Demand for the kind of functionality that Sedona has developed will only increase. 

Cisco says Sedona’s NetFusion ‘hierarchical controller’ is “the brain that enables transformation like 5G network slicing, routed optical networking, and disaggregation. The Sedona NetFusion platform is the first to deliver complete network abstraction and control, allowing CSPs to manage their networks across domains, vendors, layers, and a myriad of different technologies, all as one single network.” 

Others, including Ciena’s Blue Planet unit, which has just landed a deal at Vodafone UK, would likely counter that claim: Interestingly, a few years ago Sedona was announced as the preferred supplier of hierarchical controller technology to the Vodafone Group’s operating units, so Blue Planet has done well to get that berth (though no doubt having the operator's optical tech supplier Ciena as its parent will have helped). 

The trick now for Cisco will be to persuade that Sedona can retain its vendor-neutral status, in much the same way as Ciena has done what it can to retain that perception with Blue Planet. Sedona’s NetFusion is currently integrated with technology from all the major optical and IP networking vendors, including Nokia, Huawei, Infinera, Ciena, ADVA, Fujitsu Network Communications, Juniper and, of course, Cisco, with which it made a marketing and sales channel announcement only weeks ago (and just days ahead of the acquisition being announced). 

For Cisco, the capabilities of Sedona’s NetFusion will fit nicely alongside its Crosswork automation solution as part of its Converged SDN Transport architecture that also includes its Routed Optical Networking Solution (integrated optical and IP). “Cisco Crosswork and Sedona NetFusion provide a real-time replica of the entire network to predictively manage any changes to the deployment, connectivity, and activation status of all network inventory. Operators can preview optimization, assurance, and changes, and then commit them as needed,” notes Wollenweber in the blog about the deal. 

The team at Appledore Research is positive about the move. “Sedona will bring important capability to Cisco in enabling network simplicity and automation,” notes Principal Analyst Francis Haysom in this post. “Sedona NetFusion can automate the management of IP/Optical transport networks delivering quantitative benefits for all operators, be they mobile, fixed broadband or enterprise focused. Our analysis is that Sedona brings Cisco capabilities that will drive significant capex, opex [and] revenue opportunities for CSPs,” adds Haysom. 

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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