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IBM Brings Virtualization And Blade Servers Together

IBM-VMware partnership aims to get companies to test the partitioning technology.
Two of the hottest technologies in the server market come together Wednesday at the Server Blade Summit, with IBM announcing it will bundle evaluation copies of VMware Inc.'s virtual infrastructure into IBM eServer BladeCenter shipments.

Also, IBM said it's adding a McData Corp. storage area network switch module as an option for its BladeCenter product line.

Customers purchasing IBM BladeCenter will receive six-month evaluation copies of VMware ESX Server, Virtual SMP, and VirtualCenter with VMotion. VMware hopes that will give companies time to prove a business case for using a virtual server environment, which lets companies use software to divide and manage a server's capacity to run more tasks on a single machine. "The customers will be able to experience the benefits and ROI of the two products working together, and we'll be able to present a very easy business case for a full-fledged licensed solution," says Raghu Raghuram, senior director of strategy for VMware, which is owned by storage and content-management vendor EMC Corp.

VMware's ESX Server software is designed for partitioning, consolidating, and managing computing resources. Virtual SMP support allows virtual machines to span multiple physical processors, making the virtual machines suited for resource-intensive applications, Raghuram says.

VirtualCenter provides users with a central point of control for the virtual computing resources, and VMotion enables migration of live virtual machines for dynamic load balancing and zero-downtime maintenance, he says.

IBM's agreement with McData is the latest in a series of announcements IBM has made to provide switching alternatives for its BladeCenter, including embedded Fibre Channel and Brocade switches.

The McData SAN switch was co-developed with QLogic Corp. and allows customers who use McData for fabric connectivity to reduce their infrastructure complexity, make deployment easier, and increase manageability, says Jonathan Buckley, VP of software, routing, and WAN business lines for McData.

In addition, IBM this week disclosed an expansion of its efforts with Cisco Systems. IBM revealed an embedded Cisco switch for BladeCenter in April 2004. Beginning next month, it will offer an Ethernet switch option, the Cisco Fiber Intelligent Switch Module. The companies say the Cisco Fiber IGESM will aid customers requiring fiber Ethernet connectivity to their BladeCenter chassis.