Volta Networks has always been highly regarded in the telecommunications software community for its cloud router, a product that essentially allowed customers to run dozens of virtual routers on low-cost hardware. Founded by former Cisco and Juniper executives in 2015, it quickly made a name for itself and, by the start of this year, had raised nearly $ 23 million in funds, according to Crunchbase. Now it has been acquired by IBM as part of Big Blue’s growth strategy in the telecommunications industry, Light Reading has learned.
Never announced by IBM, the deal took place in July under the leadership of Andrew Coward, the former CEO of Lumina Networks who became general manager of IBM’s software-defined network business in February. Volta joins a series of other companies IBM recently bought out, including Accanto, Instana, Turbonomic and, most famously, Red Hat, which was acquired for $ 34 billion in mid-2019.
While Red Hat remains a separate entity, Coward wraps small businesses in an automation and analytics platform that already has leading customers. “We acquired Volta Networks to extend our leadership in network automation and analytics,” he told Light Reading via email. “We are applying Volta technology to help manage cloud network resources, and this will fit into a larger framework of our Cloud Pak for Network Automation (CP4NA), IBM Edge Application Manager, and IBM SevOne products.”
IBM landed Dish Network as a Cloud Pak customer last month, beating competition from 19 other companies. In a research note on the deal, James Crawshaw, senior analyst at Omdia (a sister company of Light Reading), said Cloud Pak was seen as an “intention-based” solution, meaning that the requirements can be specified without a low level understanding of detail. Its flexibility has also won over the operator who is currently building America’s fourth mobile network, Crawshaw said.
“Note that IBM’s Cloud Pak for Network Automation encompasses lifecycle modeling, service design and testing, dynamic service assurance, closed-loop operations, and intent-driven orchestration, but Dish currently only uses the orchestration ability, ”writes Crawshaw.
Coward says IBM has already made “significant progress” with its various products this year and may name Spain’s Telefnica as another major customer. Speaking to Light Reading on a phone call, he is clearly excited about Volta’s technology and its development.
“When we think of Volta technology, they looked at a use case in telecommunications that we think was early on in the market,” he says. “It’s essentially distributed management of routing. The original concept really focused on being able to control the edge remotely from a routing point of view. If you think about a lot of what we do from an orchestration point of view, it’s power. That’s what we just did with Dish, and the routing elements are a very important part of that. ”
Terms of the deal are not being disclosed, but Coward says more acquisitions are planned. With its new leadership in telecommunications and several agreements already concluded, “IBM is finally emerging as a credible player in the telecommunications network space,” says Crawshaw.
Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading