The big news today in the network analysis industry was Cisco's definitive agreement to buyout out Cognio, making it their 122nd acquisition, and the first for Cisco's fiscal 2008. Cognio went through some $20 million via a few rounds of VC developing their proprietary SAGE chip and software over the years.
2007 was a break-out year, having a mature card/laptop-based RF Spectrum analysis product for the 802.11 2.4 and 5 Ghz bands, not to mention four OEMs including Cisco. According to the press release, Cognio will fold into the Ethernet and Wireless Technology Group, part of the Wireless Networking Business Unit.
Cisco is underscoring the importance of premises wireless lately, with their recent 802.11n announcement and today's statement that "Wireless spectrum is a strategic asset for our customers." Mark these words: A strategic asset.
As typical when buying a private company, terms were not disclosed. Sources tell me it is was a public for private stock swap deal with some cash thrown in namely to buy out employees that are bailing. Sweet.
RF Spectrum analysis of 802.11 has caught my attention over past couple of years. See RF Spectrum Analysis, RF Vision, $25 and Device Decimates Your WiFi. I have fond memories during my tenure at WIldPackets of working with Cognio at their humble Germantown Maryland headquarters, a facility which will be shut down. Employees staying on will be moving to beautiful rural Richfield Ohio, a village of some 3,500 residents just off Interstate 77 and home to Cisco's wireless group (the Aironet Systems facilities acquired by Cisco back in 1999 for a cool $800 million).
What does all this mean for the three remaining re-branders: AirMagnet, Fluke Networks, and WildPackets? For the short term, business as usual. Longer term, it's hard to say. Most have developer's agreements in place with Cisco for other projects. What really raised my eyebrows in today's release was was the quote from Cisco VP Brett Galloway: "Cisco continues to differentiate our ability to deliver our customers rich and dependable end-user mobility experiences."
The key word is differentiate. Right now, there is virtually no differentiation between the OEMs, save for a little custom API work by AirMagnet and some minor WildPackets SNMP trap processing. Thus, how will Cisco pull apart from the crowd? My guess is that they will pursue the distributed angle as part of their unified wireless strategy. Look for new stuff in 2008, perhaps as early as Interop.