Software-defined networking. That’s the latest thing to have, if you’re a giant software company intent on being a player in the age of the cloud. On Monday, Oracle announced it has entered into an agreement to buy Xsigo Systems, a move that strengthens the company's position in the cloud computing realm.

In the software-defined data center, virtual machines created under different brands of software can be resourced as needed, with any resource connected to any network.

VMware’s Purchases

Xsigo’s products allow for the dynamic allocation of any network or storage, which it has said is a more resource and cost-efficient use of matching available assets to demand. With such software-defined networks, or SDNs, any commodity hardware can be reconfigured as needed through software.

Oracle’s acquisition announcement follows VMware’s announcement earlier this month stating its intention to buy Nicira, a few weeks after it made public plans to purchase DynamicOps. Nicira’s Network Virtualization Platform allows logical virtual networks to be managed based on workload requirements, and DynamicOps provides multiple hypervisor management.

“The proliferation of virtualized servers in the last few years has made the virtualization of the supporting network connections essential,” said Oracle Executive Vic President of Systems John Fowler in a statement. With Xsigo, he added, Oracle’s customers will be able to “reduce the complexity and simplify management of their clouds.”

Xsigio’s software is employed by such major enterprise customers as eBay, Softbank and Verizon.

Oracle’s Positioning

Oracle’s move is being seen as positioning the company on several fronts. For example, it moves the company into a competitive position with VMware’s virtualized environments, which helps to protect its customer base for its crown jewels, databases and financial applications.

Another front is Oracle’s already substantial and growing investment in cloud-based technology. The Xsigo purchase strengthens the company’s position in infrastructure, which is important to any entity seeking to create private clouds, enlist public clouds or utilize a hybrid.

Oracle has also been busily buying cloud-based companies in recent times, including human resources software provider Taleo, social analytics firm Collective Intellect, social media manager Involver, customer service provider RightNow Technologies, social marketing firm Virtue and data management company Endeca.

The terms of the Oracle-Xsigo deal were not made public. Until the deal closes in the fourth quarter, the two companies are expected to continue their independent operations.