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IBM, Cisco sync up in data center

The two companies unveil an alliance to more tightly integrate Cisco switches and networking gear with Big Blue's management software, server and service offerings.

IBM and Cisco Systems are going to know each other a lot better in computing rooms.

The two companies have unveiled an alliance to more tightly integrate Cisco switches and networking gear with IBM's management software, server and service offerings. Ideally, this will reduce the cost and time required for IBM customers to install Cisco equipment, and vice versa, because much of the heavy lifting required in figuring out how to mesh the technologies from the two giants will already have been done.

An early example of the alliance will appear in May when Cisco comes out with a switch (the Cisco Systems Intelligent Gigabit Ethernet Switch Module) that will fit into IBM's BladeCenter server rack.

With the switch, BladeCenter will essentially become a multifunctional computing center, capable of housing servers, storage devices and networking equipment, said Jeff Benck, vice president of the IBM eServer BladeCenter group. The Cisco switch will plug into the rack but will also be controlled by the same management tools as the blade servers.

"This will eliminate one of the potential roadblocks" to blade adoption, Benck said.

The alliance involves a wide variety of products. Cisco, for instance, is optimizing its Business Ready Data Center platform, an umbrella name for a host of technologies, for IBM. The first version will come out in June. IBM, meanwhile, is tweaking its Tivoli Provisioning Manager, Enterprise Workload manager and other products to work smoothly with Cisco's products.

IBM and Cisco began work on this collaboration two years ago.

The announcement comes amid an IBM analyst conference. Earlier Wednesday, IBM demonstrated a technology called Virtualization Engine, designed to make IBM's Power servers better able to juggle multiple loads.