June 20th, 2011
Wheeling and Dell-ing: Portland startup RNA Networks acquired by Dell
Now granted, I don’t usually cover traditional software and tech hardware… but a startup acquisition is a startup acquisition, no matter what kind of technology. And especially when that acquisition is a liquidity event for Oregon-based capital like the Oregon Angel Fund.
I don’t know much about RNA Networks. And Dell’s not talking. So I’m going to borrow from posts around the Web to help piece this story together for you.
While Dell has not released an official announcement on the issue, the firm confirmed to Computing the deal is complete.
“RNA Networks has a great memory virtualisation technology that Dell will leverage in future offerings,” the company added.
What does RNA do that made the five-year-old company so attractive to Dell? Well, to put it quite simply, they make a lot of computers look and act like one big computer. Or as The Register puts it:
[I]t takes multiple servers and clues their processors and memory into a single virtual image for applications to run upon, just like they would on big and expensive SMP and NUMA servers. It is fairly easy to create a server virtualization hypervisor but it is tricky to create the high-speed networks and virtualization.
The RNA software, which has gone by a number of different names in its short history, creates a pool of shared global memory from main memory in each server node that can be accessed like a cache by all of the other nodes in a cluster.
The server nodes can be linked with either Ethernet or InfiniBand networks, with or without RDMA turned on, but obviously InfiniBand with RDMA or Ethernet with RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) will significantly improve the performance of the virtualized memory pool.
RNA Networks then plunks a messaging engine, an API layer, and a pointer updating algorithm on top of the global shred memory infrastructure, with the net effect that all nodes in the cluster see the global shared memory as their own main memory.
“I was impressed with how thorough and rigorous OAF’s due diligence was. The 8-person OAF team interviewed current and prospective customers, and went deep into our market, our technology, and our founding team,” said Clive Cook, CEO, RNA Networks. “Happily, RNA Networks survived the process just fine and OAF played a lead role in our $1M seed funding round. OAF’s investment and support gave us momentum to fill the round. Shortly thereafter we received a significant investment from Menlo Ventures.”
For more information, join all of us in patiently waiting for Dell to say something more about the acquisition. In the meantime, The Register has an awesome write up on the news.
(Hat tip @TracyTThomas)