IBM expands virtualisation plans

IBM has revealed more details on how it will add a new range of virtualisation software and technologies, called Virtualization...

IBM has revealed more details on how it will add a new range of virtualisation software and technologies, called Virtualization Engine, to its Intel-based servers.

IBM intends to use third-party software from companies such as VMWare and, possibly, Microsoft to provide the system-level virtualisation for its Intel architecture-based xSeries products, said Tim Dougherty, a director of IBM eServer products.  "You should expect that over time we would begin to support Microsoft as well."

VMWare and Microsoft's virtualisation software lets computers run more than one operating system at a time. IBM said it would develop similar software for its servers, called Virtualization Engine, that would let them run as many as 10 versions of an operating system simultaneously.

Products such as Virtual Server 2004 and VMWare's GSX Server 3 only make up part of IBM's virtualisation story on Intel, Dougherty said. IBM will also build virtualisation functionality into its Director, eWorkload Manager and storage software over the next few years as part of Virtualization Engine.

"There are a variety of Virtualization Engine technologies that will work in the Intel space," he said.

IBM has also tacked another three years on to its strategic partnership with VMWare, meaning that IBM will continue to sell the EMC subsidiary's virtualisation software with its xSeries and BladeCenter systems until at least 2007.

IBM began selling VMWare's software in 2002, a year before VMWare was acquired by IBM's storage rival EMC, but the announcement that IBM's contract will be extended appears to indicate that the EMC's ownership is not affecting VMWare's relationships with rival hardware companies.

"The fact that IBM is coming up with an endorsement of VMWare even after it announced its own virtualisation engine is a pretty strong indication that IBM doesn't feel too frightened," said Illuminata analyst Jonathan Eunice.

VMWare has signed similar deals with a variety of hardware companies, including Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Fujitsu Siemens.

Microsoft is beta-testing its own virtualisation software, called Virtual Server 2004, which is expected to ship within the next six weeks.

Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service

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