VMware Acquires PlumGrid Technology Assets To Boost NSX And Container Strategy

VMware has acquired IP assets and employees from software-defined networking startup PLUMgrid, VMware confirmed to CRN, in an effort partners say will strengthen the company's SDN and container strategy.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based PLUMgird, named one of CRN's 10 Coolest Networking Startups of 2015, provides secure and scalable virtual network infrastructure technology for container and OpenStack clouds. PLUMgrid delivers SDN and NFV systems that enable modern data centers to connect tenants, applications and workloads efficiently across hypervisors, containers, virtualized systems and bare metal architectures.

Robert Keblusek, CTO of Sentinel Technologies, a Downers Grove, Ill., solution provider who partners with VMware, said the acquisition could provide channel partners with new services opportunities and a new path into the service provider market.

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"If they can tie in more advanced services from PLUMgrid technology, tie it into more service provider infrastructures to where maybe it makes hybrid cloud easier across VMware and non-VMware cloud services – those are all more use cases that might make customers' investments more in software-defined," said Keblusek. "The market is huge for SDN and data center automation and helping customers get to that hybrid cloud strategy … It's definitely getting hotter and hotter every year."

VMware's deal to acquire technology and "some" of PLUGgrid's employees closed on Friday, according to a VMware spokesperson. Financial terms, as well as details of the deal, were not disclosed.

PLUGgrid will shut down, according to a blog post by the company's founder and CTO Pere Monclus.

"Today we're announcing that we will be starting a new journey as we continue revolutionizing and transforming the networking industry to build and expand on software-defined infrastructure for private and public clouds," said Monclus. "We are excited to begin a new journey and fulfill the vision of network transformation."

In 2015, PLUMgrid hired Larry Lang as its CEO. Lang previously served as vice president and general manager of Cisco's mobile internet business and was the CEO of Quorum, a security startup.

Keblusek said PLUMgrid could be a play for VMware outside of VMware clouds. "Potentially maybe some SDN that would run in an OpenStack-based or other open cloud service provider platform, probably can even tie in with NSX," he said.

VMware's popular hardware-agnostic NSX network virtualization platform leverages virtual switches running in each hypervisor to create an SDN overlay. During VMware's recent third fiscal quarter earnings call, the vendor reported that NSX now had over 1,900 customers – a more than 100 percent yearly increase.

To boost NSX even further, VMware acquired Arkin this year, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based startup that provides software to let organizations track traffic flows and security issues in virtualized and physical environments.

VMware's main competitor in the SDN space is Cisco with its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) based on the company's Nexus 9000 series of switches and includes Cisco's Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC). Cisco said its ACI business is running at a $3 billion annual run rate. The San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant's ACI business grew 33 percent annually during Cisco's first fiscal quarter.

Since being founded in 2011, PLUMgrid has raised $29 million in funding.