College takes advantage of Cisco/IBM effort

Cisco Systems Inc. and IBM Corp. on Thursday announced several integrated products to aid in the on-demand trend within data centres, an announcement that one customer is already taking advantage of.

Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., has deployed an integrated switch and server to enhance its data centre, using hardware that is the result of the new partnership. Cisco and IBM’s deal includes the new integration of the Cisco Intelligent Gigabit Ethernet Switch Module into the IBM eServer BladeCenter, at a starting price of US$4,999.

Harry Williams, director of technology and systems at the 6,000-student college, said one of the integrated devices has already been deployed and several more will be added over the coming year. “It brings the Cisco switch right down into our IBM BladeCenter so that the switch fully integrates with Cisco management products,” Williams said.

The integration will help with virtualization of computing power at the campus, where several projects are under way, including the sharing of servers for distance education and for training computer science students in grid computing, Williams said.

In both cases, students share computing resources at Marist and the enhanced switching technology helps move resources about, Williams said. The school now runs 500 virtual Linux servers on the Linux operating system and couldn’t afford to buy another 500 servers, he said.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston, said the integrated switch module announced Thursday isn’t a “huge” development. But he added that the Cisco/IBM partnership is important for strengthening the capabilities of each company’s products. IBM had previously provided similar capability with a Nortel Networks Ltd. switch module inside the IBM eServer BladeCenter, Kerravala said.

Williams agreed that having the two hardware vendors work together means that his staff at Marist College won’t have to spend time integrating products. “And I don’t get any finger-pointing from the two vendors,” he said.

Cisco and IBM also announced the following Thursday:

– The Server Application State Protocol for exchanging application-level load and health information between the IBM Enterprise Workload Manager and the Cisco Content Switching Module.

– Enhancements to Tivoli Provisioning Manager, which will support automated provisioning across Cisco’s data centre network products, including the Cisco Catalyst 6500 Content Switching, Firewall and SSL services modules.

– IBM Tivoli Storage Area Network manager, which has been enhanced to support integrated management of virtualization services on the Cisco MDS SAN switch platform.

No pricing was announced for any of the products other than the Cisco switch integrated with the IBM eServer BladeCenter.

Thursday’s IBM/Cisco announcement comes just over two weeks after Cisco announced a marketing initiative called the Business Ready Data Center to provide customers with products and services for on-demand computing in data centres. As part of that announcement, Cisco is working with IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Electronic Data Systems Corp.

Thursday’s announcement is the first of the products to emerge from those partnerships.

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