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Cisco acquires Actona for backup consolidation

Cisco has acquired Israeli startup Actona to consolidate branch office backup and other file services at the central office.

Cisco Systems, Inc. announced Tuesday that it will acquire privately held Actona Technologies Inc. of Los Gatos, Calif., a developer of wide-area file-transfer software for approximately $82 million in cash. Cisco had a 17% equity stake in the company.

Actona software has interesting applications for the storage market, in particular the ability to enable users with lots of branch offices to centrally manage backups.

"The reliability of backup and data protection in branch offices is sketchy at best," said Pete Rukavina, a director in the Routing Technology Group at Cisco. A typical branch office has a Windows file server with a tape drive hanging off the back off it and files are archived to this, he said. But the procedure is difficult to monitor and prone to human error as tapes go astray or are mishandled.

Actona's appliances are deployed instead of traditional file servers at each remote office location. These boxes sit at remote offices and can send and receive files over the WAN in communication with a central server and its associated storage resources at the main data center. This central server then maintains responsibility for all permissions, access controls, data integrity, file management and data protection at the remote locations. "A master copy of all the files are kept in the data center and all backup occurs centrally," Rukavina said. As a result, the costs and complexity of branch office data assurance and backup are significantly improved, he said.

Actona's technology will expand the functionality of Cisco's branch office access router portfolio and will eventually be ported to blades for Cisco's Ethernet switches. Right now, Cisco has no plans to port this technology to its MDS 9000 storage switches.

Upon close of the acquisition, the Actona team will report to George Kurian, vice president and general manager, Routing Technology Group at Cisco. Actona was founded in 2000 and has 48 employees in the U.S. and Haifa, Israel.

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