Storage, arguably, is in its heyday thanks to virtualization.

In fact, one industry analyst says VMware’s VMWorld conference these days is more about storage than virtualization.

So perhaps it is no surprise that VMware – which focuses on server and desktop virtualization — announced Monday that it is buying Virsto Software, a privately-held company that specializes in virtualizing storage with its storage hypervisor.

“We believe that the acquisition of Virsto will accelerate our development of storage technologies, allowing our customers to greatly improve the efficiency and performance of storage in virtual infrastructure.” John Gilmartin, VMware’s vice-president of storage and availability, said in a statement.

Virstor works with VMware ESX and Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisors, VMware vSphere cloud infrastructure platform as well as Citrix Xen Desktop on block storage.

The acquisition, scheduled to close before the end of March, “is the software version of convergence,” said Mark Peters, a Forester Research senior analyst who specializes in storage.

He suspects the phone may be ringing now at Datacore Software, whose SANsymphony-V competes with Virsto.

Competitors also include IBM’s SVC and Hewlett-Packard’s VSA.

“Storage has become increasingly important to computing and processing,” said Peters. “It’s no longer the ugly stepchild at the back of the room. It’s something you have to embrace early on. At times, it’s almost the anchor that holds back virtualization.”

VMware’s parent, of course, is storage manufacturer EMC Corp. The announcement said EMC plans to licence Virsto software.

Virsto’s most recent product release was Virsto for vSphere 2.0, whose enhancements include fully-integrated support for both Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View, enhanced high availability capabilities and improved workflow.

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