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IBM, Microsoft in Virtualization Push

The "V" word is gaining traction. Just two weeks after Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) announced its own plans to virtualize the data center, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) have unveiled a roster of new virtualization technologies. (See IBM Intros New Tech and Microsoft Adds Dynamic Systems .)

To review: Ciscos virtualization efforts have centered mainly on networking technologies, following its recent $250 million acquisition of Topspin Communications Inc.. IBM is going after data center kit such as storage, servers, and systems management in an attempt to win data center managers over to its own virtualization story. (See Cisco Takes On Topspin.)

The move is part of IBM’s long-term plan to tie data center equipment into one big virtual package -- with a big blue bow, as it were. (See IBM's Got Virtual Vision and IBM Previews Virtualization Engine.)

Storage is a core component of this. One of the key elements of today’s announcement is a new Virtualization Engine device, the TS7510, which aims to virtualize tape storage linked to Unix and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) servers. Essentially, the TS7510 is a rackmounted server attached to a disk subsystem with a maximum usable capacity of 46 Terabytes.

Speed is of the essence here. Virtual tape systems write data to disk in the same format used for tape backups, but store the data on disk to make the backup and recovery times faster.

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