IBM to sell and support VMware software

IBM Corp. has deepened its commitment to providing partitioning tools for its Intel Corp.-based servers, announcing a deal Monday to sell directly and support server partitioning software from VMware Inc.

IBM will resell VMware’s ESX Server product for creating multiple partitions on Intel-based hardware. As part of the deal, IBM will offer worldwide support for the ESX Server software and provide management help to customers running Microsoft Corp. Windows or Linux partitions with the VMware product, said Deepak Advani, vice-president of IBM’s xSeries servers.

Running different operating systems, or several instances of the same operating system, on one physical server has been billed as a cost-effective way to cut down on the number of servers companies have to manage.

“A lot of our customers are trying to consolidate tens or hundreds of servers down to a few big servers,” Advani said. “What we are doing is strengthening this high-end value proposition with VMware.”

Although IBM has its own partitioning tools for mainframe and Unix servers, the company decided to partner with Palo Alto, Calif.-based VMware for partitioning technology on its xSeries line of Intel-based servers. The two companies teamed up earlier this year to co-develop partitioning software. The deal announced Monday will simply make it easier for customers to get the ESX Server product and support directly from IBM, Advani said.

IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y., plans eventually to add its own system management tools on top of VMware’s products, Advani said. Such moves could include the integration of products such as IBM Director server management software with ESX Server, he said. Advani would not speculate as to when these enhancements would be made.

IBM claims its co-development of the partitioning technology gives it a leg up on rivals such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Computer Corp. that also have relationships with VMware.

“VMware can run on other platforms, but what we are doing is different,” Advani said. “We have built expertise inside of IBM in this whole space. When customers look at virtualization they need a vendor that knows how to deploy and manage this stuff.”

The ESX Server product ranges in price from US$4,200 for systems with one or two processors to as much as US$11,200 for servers with between five and eight processors.

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