IBM To Bundle Blades with VMWare Virtual Infrastructure

In a marriage between two hot server technologies, IBM announced at the Server Blade Summit yesterday that it will bundle evaluation copies of VMWare’s virtual infrastructure into its eServer BladeCenter shipments.

Customers purchasing Big Blue’s BladeCenter will receive six-month evaluation copies of VMware ESX Server, VMware Virtual SMP and VMware VirtualCenter with VMotion.

The companies said the goal of the program is to help customers reduce total cost of ownership by reducing the size and complexity of their IT infrastructure with scalable, virtualized server platforms for applications and services.

Under the Virtual Hood

Yesterday’s announcements marks another step toward pervasive virtual servers and a move by VMWare to compete against SWsoft’s Virtuozzo and Microsoft’s Virtual Server 2005, according to analysts. It also strengthens the duo’s market position.

“This partnership is an example of the sort of bundles that can be put together with BladeCenter to make deployments easier and bring together complementary technologies in one place,” Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff told TechNewsWorld.

One of the advantages of the combination, according to Jeff Benck, vice president and business line executive of IBM eServer BladeCenter, is that VMware virtual infrastructure on IBM eServer BladeCenter allows customers to experience the benefits of virtualization in a scaled-out environment.

“Not only can they increase the utilization of their individual server resources, but they can increase the utilization and flexibility of their complete infrastructure,” he said. “This enhances application availability, speeds deployment and reduces overall operating costs — key needs for delivering an enterprise class x86 infrastructure platform.”

Unified Vision

Server virtualization refers to the masking of server resources from server users, consolidating data such as the number, identity and location of physical servers, processes and operating systems behind user-friendly “layers.” In a virtual infrastructure, users view resources as if they were dedicated to them.

VMware VirtualCenter provides customers a central point of control for virtual computing resources, and VMotion technology is designed to enable live virtual machines to be migrated for dynamic load balancing and zero-downtime maintenance.

VMware ESX Server is a center-class virtual infrastructure software for partitioning, consolidating and managing computing resources. Virtual SMP support allows virtual machines to span multiple physical processors, making virtual machines ideal for resource-intensive enterprise applications.

“IBM and VMware share the same vision of increasing efficiency and reducing complexity for our customers,” said Diane Greene, president of Vmware, in a statement. “Coupling blades with VMware virtual infrastructure goes a long way towards helping enterprise customers better contain, monitor and manage server workloads.”

The Virtual Future

Illuminata’s Haff said that as the server market heads toward virtualization, Big Blue and VMWare are important partners in sector that is getting more and more competitive. The companies figured that the time was right to make a push to attract fence sitters to give VMWare a try, he said.

“Server virtualization is becoming more mainstream,” Haff said. “Five years from now most servers, and indeed probably most desktops, will be deployed and managed in this somewhat virtualized way just as most storage is today.”

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