Cisco, IBM Strengthen Tech Ties

Beginning next month, Cisco’s switch modules will
be
integrated with IBM’s servers to improve the
performance
of corporate data centers, the companies announced today. Financial
terms
were not disclosed.

Offerings will also be tailored to meet the needs of education,
financial
services and banking, with other industries to follow. Marist College
will
be among the first to upgrade its network with the new hardware and
software.

“We knew we needed to interface with existing infrastructure,” Jeff
Benck,
vice president of IBM’s BladeCenter line, told internetnews.com.
“This [partnership] allows us to address management of servers, storage
and
networking in a single platform.”

Pierre-Paul Allard, Cisco’s vice president of enterprise marketing,
said the
companies have been working on the integration project for about a
year.
Throughout, engineers kept customers’ goals — such as server
consolidation,
virtualization and common interfaces — in mind.

The most significant part of today’s pact is the planned integration of
Cisco’s Intelligent Gigabit Ethernet Switch
Module
(IGESM) with IBM’s BladeCenter servers.

The IGESM directs network traffic and offers security,
quality-of-service
and management features. Blade servers are comprised of thin circuit
boards
that fit into a chassis; more blades may be added to boost computing
power
on a network.

Other product integrations include:

  • Cisco’s Content Switching Module and IBM’s Enterprise Workload
    Manager
    will exchange network load and health information through a new Server
    Application State Protocol (SASP), enabling better data center
    performance
    based on real-time data.
  • IBM’s Tivoli Provisioning Manager, a key part of IBM’s utility
    computing environment, will support the Cisco C! atalyst 6500 switch,
    firewall
    and SSL services modules, as well as the IGESM and the MDS
    9000
    SAN line.

  • IBM’s Tivoli SAN Manager will support integrated management of
    virtualization services on the Cisco MDS SAN switch platform.

The offerings will be sold by both companies. In addition, IBM’s
services
arm will launch a suite of service and support offerings, including
readiness assessment, design and integration.

James Governor, an analyst with the IT research firm Red Monk, said
today’s
partnership is well timed.

“Data centers in enterprises and telcos will be completely virtualized

that is, servers, storage and networks will all be plugged into the
same
racks and pooled so that resources can be managed through a single
framework,” Governor said. “IBM is going to provide the storage and
servers,
but doesn’t sell network gear. Step forward Cisco.”

Governor added that the companies are likely to benefit from the move
toward
Voice over Internet Protocol — which puts voice and data on a single
network — and increases the importance of data centers.

Today’s announcement is not the first time Cisco and IBM have
collaborated.
In February, the San Jose, Calif., and Armonk, N.Y., IT giants unveiled
joint offerings to safeguard enterprise networks against viruses, worms and
hackers.

And back in July, they deepened
a longstanding storage alliance.

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