If there was any doubt that software-defined networking (SDN) expertise is a hot ticket, Oracle’s planned acquisition of Xsigo, coming on the heels of VMware’s blockbuster $1.26 billion buy of Nicira, should erase it once and for all.


If there was any doubt that software-defined networking expertise is a hot ticket, Oracle’s planned acquisition of Xsigo, coming on the heels of  VMware’s blockbuster $1.26 billion buy of Nicira, should erase it.

Oracle is not saying how much it’s spending on Xsigo but SDN is clearly at the heart of the deal, which is slated to close this fall.

According to Oracle’s statement, posted early Monday morning:

Xsigo’s software-defined networking technology simplifies cloud infrastructure and operations by allowing customers to dynamically and flexibly connect any server to any network and storage, resulting in increased asset utilization and application performance while reducing cost …The combination of Xsigo for network virtualization and Oracle VM for server virtualization is expected to deliver a complete set of virtualization capabilities for cloud environments.

Update: While Oracle positioned the deal as a play for SDN heft, others, including GigaOM commenters, pointed out that the company is more about network virtualization than SDN per se.

Xsigo based in San Jose, Calif., is privately held, with venture backing from Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Greylock Partners, Khosla Ventures and North Bridge Venture Partners. The company claims blue-chip customers including BritishTelecom, eBay, Softbank and Verizon.

This buyout could put Oracle and VMware into contention on yet another front. For the past few years, Oracle has been trying to get its huge database installed base to use its own Oracle VM as opposed to VMware’s hypervisor. That push — along with Oracle’s attempt to get customers off of Red Hat Enterprise Linux onto Oracle Linux  — has met with what appears to be mixed results at best. Oracle really wants to entrench more of its software stack — above and beyond its popular database and financial applications — in customer accounts. Now Oracle will have an SDN aspect to that stack as well.

Oracle and VMware aren’t alone in the SDN pursuit. Networking kingpin Cisco is also chasing the ring via its $100 million spin-in Insieme. But SDN poses a challenge to networking incumbents that make their money selling pricey and mostly proprietary networking hardware that tends to lock customers into their worldview. The promise of SDN is that the hardware doesn’t matter so much — commodity boxes will do because they can be reconfigured and reprogrammed on the fly via software.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Peter Kaminski

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  1. Keith Townsend Monday, July 30, 2012

    It’s been about a year since I’ve looked at the Xsigo solution. It’s an extremely cool Layer 2 server datacenter solution but I don’t know how they are considered a SDN play. Maybe their solution has changed but I didn’t see anything at the management layer that I would put on the same level as Nicira.

  2. Greg Knieriemen Monday, July 30, 2012

    Um… Xsigo has nothing to do with SDN .

  3. Greg Knieriemen Monday, July 30, 2012

    This is what happens when you read a press release without doing real research: http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/press/1721421

    Site search on Xsigo for “Software defined networking”:

  4. Greg Knieriemen Monday, July 30, 2012

    Wait…. there is one page on Xsigo’s site that mentions SDN: http://www.xsigo.com/blog/tag/software-defined-networks/

    1. And it seems more like fluff to get in a one of the hot tech keywords.

      1. Exactly right Keith. The fact that Xsigo isn’t even a member of the Open Networking Foundation (the center of all things SDN) should be a big tip off – https://www.opennetworking.org/membership/members

        . In fairness, all tech media got this wrong and Barb was racing to publish first rather than being right.

        The story here is that Xsigo IS NOT really all that deep with SDN, so what in the hell is Oracle doing here?

        1. When I got pitched from them last year they claimed Ellison was a big investor.

        2. And you’re right. Computerworld.com has the same slant that it is a SDN play.

  5. Barb Darrow Monday, July 30, 2012

    @keith @greg I did use verbiage from the Oracle press release. Mea Culpa. They are clearly positioning this as an SDN play — whehter it is one or not. If ellison is an investor that is interesting. Oracle has been down this road before — Pillar etc. will look into it.

    1. Yes let me know what you find out about Ellison. I didn’t find anything directly associated with him. The sales guy could have been referring to Infini Band which is Xsigo’s preferred transport technology or I could be mis-remembering the conversation.

      Unless you had talked with Xsigo directly and demoed their product I doubt you could have determined that they aren’t a SDN play by their marketing material. I think everyone is trying to get in on a SDN payday. Heck for $1B I’m all about SDN :)

  6. Nothing to do with SDN, this is a Remote I/O expansion box, it is tied to server with a Infiniband link at 20GB/Sec – 40GB/Sec. This is needed due to Server Consolidation due to VM’s, So that VM’s can more IO.

    1. Greg Knieriemen RK Tuesday, July 31, 2012

      RK – you are exactly right. In reality, Xsigo is more of a competitor to Cisco UCS (by virtue of the streamlined networking/speed) than anything else

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