Sources: Cisco Inks OEM Deal With Startup Springpath, Preps UCS Hyper-Converged Appliance

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Cisco Systems is preparing a new hyper-converged appliance that combines its UCS servers with technology gained from an OEM agreement with hyper-converged software startup Springpath, multiple sources with knowledge of the matter told CRN on Monday.

The sources said Cisco has also made an undisclosed investment in Springpath, which was founded in 2012 by former VMware storage engineers as Storvisor and emerged from stealth mode under its new name last February.

Under the pact, Cisco has the option of acquiring Springpath, said the sources, who all spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is confidential.

[Related: Here's Why Cisco Partners Think A Springpath Acquisition Would Make Sense]

In November, Springpath parted ways with its public relations firm, canceled planned appearances at technology conferences and stopped answering its phones, triggering speculation about its future direction.  

The sources said it's possible that Cisco may share details about the Springpath-based UCS appliance next week at its Data Center Partner Connection conference in Maui, Hawaii, or at its annual Partner Summit event in San Diego in late February.

Meanwhile, Cisco has been rewriting the code base for Invicta, the flash storage technology based on its 2013 acquisition of Whiptail, and may use it in the new UCS hyper-converged appliance, said the sources.

Cisco shuttered its two Invicta product lines last July after being unable to fix persistent scaling issues with the technology.

A Cisco spokesman declined to comment. Springpath representatives didn't respond to a request for comment.

Springpath, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., develops software that enables compute, storage, networking and virtualization to run on x86 server hardware. Co-founders Mallik Mahalingam and Krishna Yadappanavar were previously engineers at VMware, helping to create technologies like VMFS (Virtual Machine File System) and VXLAN (Virtual Extensible LAN).

Springpath has raised $34 million in a single funding round from investors New Enterprise Associates, Redpoint Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Stanford University, according to Crunchbase.

A Springpath-based UCS appliance would bring to an end months of speculation in the channel over Cisco's strategy for the hyper-converged infrastructure market, where it's being overshadowed by startups like Nutanix and SimpliVity, which together have raised over half a billion dollars in venture funding.

Nutanix last week filed for an initial public offering in which it's looking to raise up to $200 million, while SimpliVity CEO Doron Kempel subsequently told CRN his company will file for an IPO when "the timing is right."

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