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Cisco Acts on Actona

Not content with gobbling up a succession of security vendors over the past few months, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is set to acquire software startup Actona Technologies Inc. for $82 million, in an effort to strengthen its data center strategy (see Cisco Acquires Actona).

The Los Gatos, Calif.-based startup develops software to manage files across wide-area networks (WANs) linking remote offices and data centers. Known as wide-area file services (WAFS), the technology aims to overcome the lags encountered when sending files to remote sites using traditional file protocols, such as NFS for Unix and CIFS for Windows. Actona is one of a number of vendors offering specialized software that deploys caching and other mechanisms to centralize files and offer bidirectional access (read/write) to multiple remote sites.

Cisco's move comes just a few months after Actona attracted $10 million in Series C funding, bringing its total equity investment to $23 million. That round was led by venture capital firms Evergreen Venture Capital, Fantine Group, and Sequoia Capital (see Actona Attracts Additional $10M).

Cisco is planning to port Actona's software onto its branch office routers and data center switches, although the software will initially be deployed on appliances such as PCs and servers. Actona's technology will also be built into Cisco's Full Service Branch solution, a somewhat loosely defined offering for extending a broad range of applications out from corporate data centers and head offices to remote sites.

But what's in it for the customers? Fast access to centrally managed files, according to Cisco. The vendor claims that Actona's technology will provide branch office users with almost LAN-speed access to centrally deployed file systems.

But Actona is not the only startup playing in this space - Riverbed Technology Inc., Signiant Corp., and Tacit Networks Inc. have all been busy with funding and product announcements over the last few months (see Watch Out for WAFS)

The acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of Cisco's 2005 fiscal year, which begins this November.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-gen Data Center Forum

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