RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Cisco, which already employs some 5,000 people at its large campus in RTP, is about to get even bigger.

The Internet and networking giant on Tuesday disclosed it is acquiring publicly traded Acacia Networks in a deal valued at $2.6 billion.

Acacia concentrates on optical-based interconnection technologies that operate at high speeds.

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Cisco says the deal will help it meet customer demand for faster and better access to information through data centers.

“By innovating across software, silicon and optics, Cisco is reinventing every domain of the network with our intent-based architectures,” said David Goeckeler, executive vice president and general manager of Cisco’s networking and security business., in a statement. “With the explosion of bandwidth in the multi-cloud era, optical interconnect technologies are becoming increasingly strategic. The acquisition of Acacia will allow us to build on the strength of our switching, routing and optical networking portfolio to address our customers’ most demanding requirements.”

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Cisco is paying $70 a share for Acacia stock.

Cisco already buys gear from Acacia. It’s an acquisition in the hardware space even as Cisco under CEO Chuck Robbins, a UNC-CH graduate, moves Cisco more into software and services. Cisco did agree to buy a semiconductor firm in December with emphasis again on data center speed.

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