Intel Buys Networking Software Firm Aepona

The acquisition adds to Intel’s aggressive push into the networking space, including its recent efforts in the competitive SDN market.

Intel is quietly adding to its networking capabilities, buying a small software company whose products enable telecommunications companies and cloud service providers to offer more services on their networks.

Aepona is based in Ireland and has more than 300 employees in offices in Belfast and Dublin, as well as the United States and Sri Lanka. No financial details were disclosed.

According to a statement from Intel, the deal will enable the chip maker to extend "its investments in solutions instrumental to build and deliver future network and cloud services across the spectrum of computing. Aepona's experience, customer relationships, and industry reputation will help Intel accelerate innovation and adoption in the ecosystem."

Aepona develops software that lets service providers more easily open up their networks to developers by leveraging common language APIs, giving the developers the access they need to better develop services that the network providers can deliver to customers. The software not only gives the service providers more avenues to monetize their networks, but also better ways to manage them.

Aepona also offers a software platform that takes telecom technologies such as location, payment and authentication and puts them into a cloud services API.

Telecoms and services providers are constantly looking for new ways to make money off of their networks by offering customers new services, and networking vendors are looking to meet that demand. For example, Cisco Systems in February introduced its Quantum portfolio of products designed to make it easier for carriers to better monetize and manage the rapidly growing amount of real-time data running across their networks from mobile and fixed Internet connections between people, their devices and various processes.

For Intel, the Aepona deal is the latest step in developing a networking business that gives it one more growth area as the chip maker looks to diversify its product portfolio and open up new markets for its processors.

Intel over the past several years has bought several businesses to help it grow its networking capabilities. That has included QLogic's InfiniBand business and Cray's high-performance computing interconnect assets. In 2011, Intel bought Ethernet chip maker Fulcrum Systems.

In April, Intel made a significant push into the burgeoning and highly competitive software-defined networking (SDN) market. At the Open Networking Summit, Intel officials outlined the company's SDN strategy, which goes beyond simply supplying the processors for networking hardware. Intel also unveiled reference architectures designed to help enterprises, cloud service providers and telecommunications companies more quickly create hardware and software for SDN and network-function virtualization (NFV), which will bring the company into closer competition with the likes of Cisco and Broadcom.

"SDN and NFV are critical elements of Intel's vision to transform the expensive, complex networks of today to a virtualized, programmable, standards-based architecture running commercial off-the-shelf hardware," Rose Schooler, vice president of the Intel Architecture Group and general manager of Intel's Communications and Storage Infrastructure Group, said in a statement at the time. "The reference designs announced today enable a new phase in the evolution of the network and represent Intel's commitment to driving an open environment that fosters business agility and smart economics."

Other moves Intel has made in the SDN space include investing $6.5 million in startup Big Switch Systems and becoming a founding member of the OpenDaylight Project, which aims to create a common, open SDN platform. The company also is working with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute's NFV project.