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VMware Grabs Arkin for Data Center Automation

Mitch Wagner

Not willing to be left out of the acquisitions party Monday, VMware snapped up startup Arkin Net to help automate network flows inside the data center.

Founded by VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) alumni, Arkin specializes in management and automation for VMware NSX networks, part of VMware's overall Software Defined Data Center strategy. Arkin's tools are designed to break down silos between components of the data center, Milin Desai, VMware VP product management and marketing, networking and security business unit, tells Light Reading.

"We as an IT organization typically work in silos -- compute operations, storage, network and security. With SDDC, companies want a holistic model," Desai says. Arkin helps deliver that, improving mean time to resolution for network problems by 70%.

The companies did not disclose financial terms of the acquisition, which is expected to close this month. Arkin has fewer than 50 employees. Founded in 2013, the company has $22 million funding in two rounds from four investors, led by Nexus Venture Partners, according to Crunchbase.

One Arkin investor is Alan Cohen, formerly VP marketing at Nicira, acquired for $1.26 billion by VMware in 2012 to launch VMware's NSX strategy. Cohen is now chief commercial officer for security startup Illumio.

As part of the acquisition, Arkin's management team will join the VMware Cloud Management Business Unit, VMware says.

In addition to unifying silos, Arkin helps enterprises secure the interior of their networks. "People spend money on perimeter security but the inside of the data center is soft and crunchy," Desai says. (Editor's note: See this cartoon.) Some 70% of network traffic occurs inside the data center; Arkin provides tools to map that activity -- like GPS or Google Maps for data centers.

Arkin complements VMware's focus on building overlay networks -- using NSX to provide a software network that runs on top of network operators existing equipment. Arkin provides visibility into vendor equipment including Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Arista Networks Inc. , Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) and Palo Alto Networks Inc.

Arkin responds to natural language queries -- "network tools for millennials," is how Desai describes it. Operators can enter queries in natural language, like with Google, to search across virtual and physical domains, he said.

The kind of automation provided by Arkin is key to cloud deployments, Desai says. "Cloud is all about speed and automation," he says. Cloud deployments need to operate at scale with thousands of applications. "Think of this as a mechanism to accelerate deployment by providing security policies and virtualization."

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Over the longer term, Arkin will accelerate NSX deployments to the public cloud.

While VMware built its business on server virtualization, in the form of its vSphere product, that part of the business is declining. VMware is staking its future on SDDC and the cloud, and Arkin will be part of that plan. (See Cloud Helps Drive VMware Revenue Higher.)

And even as VMware acquires Arkin, it is itself in the process of being acquired -- or, more precisely, Dell Technologies (Nasdaq: DELL) is acquiring EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), which owns a controlling stake in VMware. (See Dell Buys EMC for $67B in Biggest Tech Deal Ever.)

The VMware/Arkin acquisition is part of a busy Monday for acquisitions and deals:

— Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor, Light Reading Enterprise Cloud

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