Sun Microsystems will acquire Nauticus Networks, a maker of content switches for the datacentre, in a move aimed at boosting its blade server technology.
Nauticus makes a family of datacentre switches called the N2000 Series, designed to help companies ensure the security and availability of web-based applications.
The switches are based on a Nauticus chipset known as TideRunner and offer SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) acceleration, load balancing, virtualisation and other functions.
Sun is likely to integrate Nauticus' technology with its blade server offerings, said Kathy Pries, group marketing manager for Sun's volume systems products group.
About two years ago, each of the big server suppliers decided to leave the business of content switching to network equipment makers such as Cisco Systems and Nortel Networks, said Jonathan Eunice, principal analyst with Illuminata.
Sun has, apparently, decided to build that capability into its high-volume systems, potentially giving a lift to its N1 initiative for simplifying datacentre management, he said.
At the same time, by using Nauticus' technology but not selling its products, Sun reduces its risk of aggravating Cisco, one of its important partners, by competing with it directly.
Many of the standalone content switch players were bought up during the dotcom bubble, he noted.
Cisco acquired ArrowPoint in 2000 for $5.7bn in stock, while Nortel bought Alteon WebSystems the same year for $7.8bn in stock. It is likely that Sun got a much better deal in buying Nauticus.
Sun expects to close the deal by the end of June. When the deal is completed, Nauticus will become part of Sun's Volume Systems Products Group under executive vice-president Neil Knox.
James Niccolai writes for IDG News Service