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agreed Tuesday to acquire closely held Actona Technologies of Los Gatos, Calif., for $82 million in cash.

San Jose-based Cisco says Actona is a developer of wide-area file services software that facilitates data management across geographically distributed offices. The deal comes as Cisco, the leading maker of gear for companies' computer networks, seeks to expand into other niches of the network communications business.

Cisco said Actona's technology will augment its full-service branch offering by providing intelligent network services that enable WAN-optimized file transfer and access. In addition, Actona will extend Cisco's solutions for Data Center Storage Consolidation to the branch office, the company said.

Cisco expects the deal to close in its first quarter of fiscal 2005.

"Providing intelligent network services so distributed enterprises can centralize file servers and storage, and better protect and cost-effectively manage their remote office data, is critical," said George Kurian, vice president for Cisco's Routing Technology Group. "Actona's technology is a best-of-breed wide-area file services solution, enabling storage consolidation while providing 'LAN-like' file access over a WAN."

Actona, which has 48 workers and was founded in 2000, will report to Kurian. The company raised $10 million in so-called Series C funding this spring, in a placement led by Mayfield that included participation from Sequoia Capital, Evergreen Partners and the Fantine Group.

On Tuesday, Cisco rose 29 cents to $23.59.