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.

So, I’m happy to let you know that Portland-based RNA Networks has been acquired by Dell.

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.

Computing had this to say:

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.

Oregon Angel Fund helped provide seed funding for RNA Networks.

“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)

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  5. I highly doubt RNA was a fire sale…they were hot last I heard.

  6. M. Edward (Ed) Borasky June 20, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    I haven’t checked in with RNA Networks in a year or so, but the last time I talked to anyone over there they had a really great product!

  7. Aaron,

    I think that’s a great point.

    I’ve only heard rumors of numbers on all of the deals you mentioned. I haven’t managed to get anything concrete.

    Thanks for raising the concern.

  8. Any numbers? Hate to say it but unless numbers are posted you don’t know if an acquisition is a good one or a fire sale. I would be interested to know as it is very relevant. If the investors got a good return and the founder a payout it is great for Portland, as there is more investment dollars and it shows Portland companies CAN be successful. If it was a fire sale I am wondering how many of these acquisitions we are patting ourselves on the back for were actually failures ( not always a bad thing). No numbers provided about Second Porch, then the Pixetell change over wasn’t even called an acquisition, it just seems really weird that we are not seeing any numbers, or even word that investors got a return, this is pretty important. I am not being negative, I just want to know the whole story. Thanks

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