Cisco, IBM team on data center consolidation

Integrators considering server blade technology to simplify data center architectures stand to benefit from today's partnering announcement by Cisco Systems Inc. and IBM Corp.

The companies introduced a combined solution that integrates Cisco switches and IBM blade servers into one unit to help speed deployment and manage data center costs. To date, no standard exists to pull together blades and switches, making the Cisco-IBM solution "a de factor standard," according to an IBM spokesperson.

Specifically, Cisco's Intelligent Gigabit Ethernet Switch Module will be integrated into the IBM eServer BladeCenter. The companies said they will jointly provide design guidance and recommendations as part of Cisco's Business Ready Data Center blueprint.

In addition, the companies announced that IBM's Tivoli management software would be updated to support various Cisco networking products. Tivoli Provisioning Manager, a component of the IBM Virtualization Engine, will now support automated provisioning across Cisco Catalyst 6500 Content Switching, Firewall and SSL services modules; the Cisco IGESM; and the Cisco MDS 9000 SAN switch family.

IBM's Virtualization Engine, which the company rolled out this week, is technology adapted from the company's experience with mainframe systems. The Virtualization Engine can improve utilization of server processors by partitioning the system like a mainframe. Such technology can make a single server processor operate like 10 servers, IBM officials said.

A variety of Cisco and IBM products will be bundled together to help agencies deploy entire data centers. IBM Global Services will also begin offering new services to support the Cisco-IBM solutions.

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco and Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM have been partnering on technology since 1999. Previous agreements have focused on security and storage technologies.

With 2003 revenues of $89.1 billion, IBM ranked No. 18 on Washington Technology's 2003 Top 100 list, which measures federal contracting revenue. Washington Technology's 2004 rankings are due out in May.

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