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Brocade, IBM Could Cross Blades

IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) is expected to reveal the latest piece of its blade server jigsaw at NetWorld + Interop next week, announcing a new partnership with storage vendor Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD).

Details are fuzzy at the moment, but a number of industry sources have told NDCF that IBM and Brocade will announce that they're cooperating on a specialized SAN switch for IBM's blade server products.

In many ways, this makes sense. A Brocade Fibre Channel switch could make blade servers an increasingly attractive option for those firms keen to integrate blade server farms and SANs. In addition, the SAN switch could be equipped with sofware to help virtualize the data center -- and thereby overcome some of the limitations of running virtualization software on incompatible server operating systems and multi-vendor storage arrays.

Longer term, teaming up with Brocade could help support IBMs current virtualization push. Last month, IBM unveiled its new Virtualization Engine, which extends mainframe virtualization capabilities its servers and to its FastT and Shark storage systems (see IBM Revs Virtualization Engine).

The deal would also make perfect sense for Brocade. Blades are big news at the moment, and there is growing interest in the technology from IT managers who see them as a high-density solution to the restricted space found in many data centers.

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