Late last week, Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) plunked down $141 million in cash to buy Cariden Technologies, developer of software for network planning, design and traffic management tools for telecom service providers. The privately funded and employee-owned Cariden has recorded a 50 percent compound growth rate over the past five years.

When the deal closes by January 2013, Cariden will be folded into Cisco’s Service Provider Networking Group. Shailesh Shukla, Cisco Software and Applications Group vice president and general manager, will oversee Cariden’s activities. The sale price includes some incentives to retain key Cariden employees.

Cariden belongs to Cisco’s Developer Network Partner program and has a history working with Cisco to better service provider and enterprise IP/MPLS networks with its capacity planning and management tools. Its MATE networking planning tool, which tells service providers what’s inside a variety of vendors' gear, has been deployed at a number of prominent Cisco-powered networks, according to officials.

As for channel partners, Cariden maintains a network of resellers and system integrators. The company lists technology partnerships with some of Cisco’s biggest networking challengers including Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Juniper (NYSE: JNPR).

The Cariden acquisition fills a hole for Cisco. The vendor intends to market Cariden’s technology to service providers as a means to improve the visibility, programmability and efficiency of their network infrastructures and it will leverage Cariden’s solutions to advance its nLight IP and optical convergence platform and for WAN orchestration.

"Given the widespread convergence of IP and optical networks, Cariden's technology will help carriers more efficiently manage bandwidth, network traffic and intelligence,” said Surya Panditi, senior vice president and general manager, Cisco's Service Provider Networking Group.

Inasmuch as Alcatel-Lucent and Juniper are using Cariden’s technology, it’s got to make those vendors a bit squeamish that rival Cisco now owns tools to look into their equipment. Should they be concerned?

Cariden marks Cisco’s tenth acquisition of the year, five of which have been transacted since the end of September, including ThinkSmart, vCider, Cloupia and Meraki.