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Vamping Virtualization

Storage managers may be dipping a toe in the waters of virtualization, but their suppliers are already submerged. Judging by recent market activity, the V word is top of mind when it comes to future products.

There's evidence everywhere. In today's announcements alone, there's word of two solutions that at least superficially compete with VMware, the current virtualization market leader. These include a joint server solution planned by VAR/integrator Appro and operating system vendor SWsoft, and CommVault's QiNetix data management software ported to Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2. (See CommVault Integrates QiNetix and Appro, SWsoft Partner.)

Meanwhile, VMware itself continues to build its palpable momentum. (See EMC Nets nLayers, Scopes Security.) In this vein, the IT world is waking up to the fact that EMC's VMware quietly bought a small startup named Akimbi Systems last week for an undisclosed amount. (See VMware Acquires Akimbi.) This San Mateo, Calif., company, founded in 2004 by James Phillips (ex-Actional, Ensim, Intel) and Xun Wilson Huang (ex-Ensim), specializes in software that manages the virtual machines created by VMware and Microsoft virtualization. Competition includes the likes of Surgient.

It seems VMware is primarily interested in using Akimbi's products for software development, for which teams require lots of configurable virtual test environments. Many IT shops support their own software development labs to test out applications, so VMware's getting more deeply involved in an area where there's immediate benefit from virtualization.

Akimbi's product, dubbed Slingshot, will be incorporated wholesale into a new VMware offering slated for beta testing in the third quarter 2006. Akimbi got $8 million in Series D funding in November 2005 from Mayfield, Hummer Winblad, and Partech. It counts Intel, Juniper, RSA, Symantec, Coldwater Creek, and more than 20 others as customers, including two recent wins in the U.K. and Australia.

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