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Oracle's decision to acquire network virtualization technology developer Xsigo Systems seems to have answered the question of whether Oracle would eventually acquire a networking company.
However, that answer leads to several more questions about what Oracle will get when it closes its acquisition of Xsigo, expected sometime this year, including what it means to customers and how it might impact traditional networking vendors.
With San Jose, Calif.-based Xsigo, Oracle gets a virtualized networking fabric built on Xsigo's I/O Director appliance. The I/O Director sits between servers and the core Ethernet and storage networking infrastructure to provide the servers with virtual network interface cards and virtual host-bus adapters. Each server can be connected to up to 64 virtual resources, with high availability possible by routing paths through two separate I/O Directors.
The I/O Director is not a switch itself, but instead creates high-speed virtual LAN and SAN connections that connect servers to the core networking equipment. Those virtual LAN and SAN connections can be created and configured as needed. The I/O Director is managed by the company's Xsigo Fabric Manager software.
The physical servers connect to the I/O Director via an InfiniBand or a 10-Gbit Ethernet host adapter card. A second host adapter card can be installed in a server for redundancy.
Oracle is touting Xsigo as its entry to software-defined networking, or SDN, which has led to the acquisition being compared to VMware's planned acquisition of SDN developer Nicira.
However, there are some fundamental differences in the two acquisitions and the technologies involved.
Nicira is regarded as a pioneer in developing SDN technology, where it has taken advantage of work it has done with the open-source OpenStack cloud community to develop the technology to handle the movement of data packets to their final destination over a virtual network based on virtual switches and routers. It is the Nicira software that handles the movement of the data.
Xsigo's I/O Director, meanwhile, virtualizes the connections from the servers to the core network to provide a flexible way of configuring the required data paths from the servers as needed. It does not create virtual switches. However, said Jon Toor, vice president of marketing at Xsigo, it can make use of virtual switches created by VMware.
NEXT: Xsigo, Nicira And SDN