Highlighting the continued importance of data virtualization, Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) announced this morning it would acquire privately held Composite Software, a data virtualization software and services specialist, for approximately $180 million in cash and retention-based incentives.

By consolidating the data in a simplified view, Composite's software helps businesses quickly integrate and analyze data and workflow across platforms, taking into account the cloud, as well as big data. This allows businesses to make better, more informed decisions in real time. Through this connection, companies can better leverage their network knowledge and programmability, maximizing the benefits of data virtualization, because it appears as if it's all in one place.

Cisco President and COO Gary Moore said: "By combining our network expertise with the performance of Cisco's unified computing system and Composite's software, we will provide customers with instant access to data analysis for greater business intelligence."

Upon completion of the acquisition, Composite will be operated under Cisco's services platforms group and its integration brokerage technology group. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of fiscal year 2014.

Cisco's shares are down 0.6% to $24.54 in early morning trading.