Quick Alert: Cisco Ups the Ante, Buys Rohati

Cisco starts 2010 with a bang as they have acquired Rohati Systems for an undisclosed transaction.  Rohati will be a welcomed addition to the Nexus product line and adds considerable thought leadership to Cisco’s cloud computing initiative.  In fact, once Rohati’s TNS technology is incorporated into a Nexus blade, it has the potential to not only jump-start Nexus sales within the datacenter but also to impact Cisco’s UCS strategy. 

Interestingly enough, I have not seen a lot of hoopla regarding this acquisition; in fact most of the articles on the Internet simply mention that Rohati was acquired by Cisco.  However, when I learned of this acquisition, I could not help but to smile and applaud the M&A teams at Cisco.  Why?

Security remains one of the biggest challenges to cloud computing; public and private clouds.  The worries include; internal threats, external threats, data transmissions, user privileges, compliance, and more.  While firewalls and IDS/IDP systems are essential to securing the cloud, they don’t go far enough.  That’s where Rohati’s innovation of the Layer-7 Access Control List attempts to fill the void.

A layer-7 ACL?  The principal is quite ingenious as a Layer-7 ACL authorizes the entire transaction.  Taken from Rohati’s literature:

TNS Layer-7 ACLs are based on the XML Access Control Markup Language (XACML) that allows them to be written in plain English with the added benefit of being readable.  TNS is policy based, does not require agents, does not require reconfiguring applications (virtual or bare metal), does not require client changes, supports HA, and has centralized management capabilities including logging.

While I am unaware of Rohati’s success or failure as a stand-alone-company, Cisco has the market power to make their vision a reality.  Remember, cloud computing requires combining networking, servers, applications, storage, security, and management.  With this acquisition, Cisco is moving in the right direction and is signaling to their customers and competitors that they are serious about securing the cloud…your move HP.