VMware pays big for OpenFlow pioneer

NEW YORK  — Continuing its push to virtualize all aspects of the data center, VMware Inc. is acquiring software-defined networking firm Nicira for US$1.26 billion, the companies announced Monday.

“I believe we have the same opportunity to do for networking what we’ve already done for servers and many other parts of the data center,” Steve Herrod, VMware’s CTO, wrote in a blog post about the deal.

VMware will fold Nicira’s core technology, called Open vSwitch, into its own portfolio of virtual networking software, VMware said.

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Nicira’s software creates an abstraction layer between servers and networking gear, allowing organizations to decouple the network topology from the equipment, creating virtualized pools of networking capability. Its software supports a wide variety of network interface cards, switches, appliances, networking APIs (application programming interfaces) and fabric types.

VMware will encourage Nicira employees to continue working on open-source networking projects, it said. Some of Nicira’s employees led the development of the OpenFlow software-defined networking protocol and were also involved with the OpenStack Quantum networking software.

VMware will pay $1.05 billion in cash plus $210 million of assumed unvested equity awards to purchase Nicira, which was founded in 2007 and is based in Palo Alto, California.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the year, pending regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.

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