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Cisco Targets Utility Computing With Topspin Communications Acquisition

The purchase gives Cisco a foot into the utility computing market via the Topspin server fabric switches, which are designed both to connect servers in a grid and provide network and storage connectivity to the grid.
Cisco Systems on Thursday planted a stake in the utility computing market with a deal to acquire Topspin Communications for $250 million in cash and options.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Topspin makes a family of server fabric switches designed to connect servers in a grid and then provide network and storage connectivity to the grid. The products are targeted at enterprises, service providers, research institutions and universities deploying grid and utility computing, clustered enterprise applications or server virtualization, according to Cisco.

The acquisition will add support for the InfiniBand server interconnect architecture to Cisco's portfolio. Vendors such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, NEC and Sun Microsystems have entered partnerships with Topspin to provide its InfiniBand-based server fabric switching technology as part of their product portfolios.

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco said Topspin's technology will complement its network and storage switching products.

"The widespread adoption of server architectures such as blades, grid computing and clustered applications is driving an emerging market opportunity within the data center," said Luca Cafiero, senior vice president of Cisco's Data Center, Switching and Wireless Technology Group, in a statement.

Plans call for Topspin to join Cafiero's group after the completion of the acquisition, which is expected to close during Cisco's fiscal fourth quarter, ending July 30.

Topspin was founded in April 2000 and has about 135 employees in Mountain View, Calif., and Bangalore, India.