VMware will acquire a little known company, Arkin Net, by the end of June. The deal will help enhance VMware's ability to build and manage virtual networks tied to hundreds or thousands of virtual machines.
Integrating virtual networking with virtual machine operation is one of the last steps VMware needed in order to support its claim of establishing the software-defined data center. The acquisition also broadens VMware's mission from simply generating and managing virtual machines to managing virtual servers, storage, and network services throughout the data center.
In some ways, VMware bet the bank on its ability to virtualize the network through its NSX virtual networking product.
With its Nicira acquisition for $1.26 billion in 2014, VMware bet that it could produce a marketable network virtualization product that would push aside established players. It risked its hitherto close business relationship with Cisco. It also outlined as a goal a software-defined data center in which it was essential to convert the hardwired network to a more plastic and configurable system via network segmentation by means of virtualization.
VMware has not succeeded everywhere and with every customer on that goal.
At VMworld in September, it said it had 700 NSX customers out of a total 500,000 customers. But it's made enough progress that it's now willing to tie NSX more closely to its key configuration and capacity management system, vRealize Operations. With virtualization continually dividing and subdividing resources among VMs, a key operational demand has been to know what capacity was left where.
Using VMware's "beachhead" in server virtualization, Shekar Ayyar, corporate senior vice president for strategy, wrote in a blog post June 12: "We have expanded our capabilities in the software-defined data center and Cloud by spanning compute, networking, storage, and management." Networking is the gap that the Arkin acquisition is trying to fill, he added.
The Arkin management platform will be integrated with VMware's operations management products, the vRealize Suite. VRealize often serves as the means of imposing a central intelligence on top of virtualized data center operations. It enables configuration management, performance assessment, and capacity management for hundreds or thousands of running virtual machines.
Arkin, an established business partner of VMware, was founded in 2013 to bring management enhancements to virtual networks. This year, Arkin was named by Gartner as one of its "Cool Vendors in Enterprise Networking."
Ayyar wrote in his blog post that the Arkin platform was "purpose-built for NSX."
[Want to learn how VMware is bidding to manage the data center? Read VMware Value Lies In Modern Data Center Management.]
The Arkin management platform helps a virtualization manager to assign an NSX virtual network to a virtual machine and implement security for it. It can generate from existing physical network resources the virtualized networks needed for multiple virtual machine deployments and track their use and capacity.
In a June 13 blog post, Arkin noted that it: "helps IT organizations to simplify planning and operations for NSX, allowing them to quickly scale NSX to thousands of applications."
The announcement of the pending acquisition included a statement from John Spiegel, IS/global communications manager of Columbia Sportswear. Columbia is an NSX user who has also implemented Arkin, and the management platform provides visibility into frequently separate technology domains, particularly virtual servers and their networks.
"Operational visibility, which accounts for both hardware and software, is critical to how organizations succeed in using next generation data center technologies," Spiegel wrote.
Cofounder and CEO Shiv Agarwal will join the Cloud business unit of VMware, along with about 50 Arkin employees. Neither company released financial details of the acquisition.