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Sun buys another piece of its N1 vision

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Sun Microsystems continues to refine its data center technology plans via acquisition, announcing Tuesday an agreement to buy networking start-up Nauticus Networks.

Sun's intentions for the Nauticus technology seem pretty clear. The privately-held company makes switches that process and accelerate SSL traffic and builds fairly complex load balancing gear. Sun has for some time now been looking to break up different forms of network traffic to cut down the processing load of main server CPUs. Nauticus would certainly help nudge these ambitions along.

Nauticus makes its own chipsets that could be built into Sun gear. Sun could also choose to sell the Nauticus switches, although this seems less likely given past chatter from the house that McNealy built.

Sun has multicore processors scheduled to arrive this year and next that will handle some SSL processing. In addition, the company has talked about offloading TCP/IP traffic onto separate processors. The idea is not new with companies such as Alacritech already selling product. Our guess is that Sun will use the Nauticus chipsets to complement its own processor work.

In total, the Nauticus technology would add to Sun's N1 notion of making data center management easier. Over the past two years, Sun has acquired storage networking company Pirus and software makers CenterRun and Terraspring to bolster N1. Each buy added another layer to the grand plan of having applications provision and manage themselves across server and storage systems from a number of vendors.

Sun is not the only hardware giant to have such fanciful thoughts. HP, IBM and EMC are have their own N1-like visions. Dell, of course, will partner to deliver the technology.

Sun has placed an all-cash bid for Nauticus, but the exact financial terms of the deal remain a mystery. It's expected to close in the next three months. ®

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