Oracle snaps up Xsigo for SDN smarts

If there was any doubt that software-defined networking expertise is a hot ticket, Oracle’s(s orcl) planned acquisition of Xsigo, coming on the heels of  VMware’s(s vmw) 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(s ebay), Softbank and Verizon(s vz).

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(s rhat) 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 (s csco) 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