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Shocking as it may seem, IBM and EMC have agreed on a three-year technology sharing pact. Well, not exactly.

IBM has reupped its partnership with virtualization software maker VMware through 2007. The deal between the two companies has and will continue to have VMware's software be the main partitioning option for IBM's x86 (Intel and AMD) server customers. Extending this relationship through 2007 proves IBM was not put off by EMC's $635m acquisition of VMware late last year.

"Being able to virtualize computing and manage systems remotely is a critical aspect of on demand computing," said Leo Suarez, vice president of IBM's xSeries servers. "Our partnership with VMware complements the IBM on demand strategy by bringing partitioning to the xSeries and Intel-based BladeCenter product lines. Combined with IBM Virtualization Engine, VMware extends IBM's virtualization capability across the entire xSeries and Intel-based BladeCenter servers."

IBM has long been VMware's biggest cheerleader. Big Blue has been reselling and sharing engineering efforts around VMware's ESX Server product for years. The latest agreement also sees IBM getting behind VMware's VMotion, VirtualCenter and Virtual SMP products - all of which help administrators manage applications on partitioned servers.

There had been some speculation that IBM might cool on the VMware relationship after bitter storage rival EMC bought the firm. VMware's products do play a fairly central role in IBM's future server plans by letting administrators run Linux and Windows together on the same system and by letting them consolidate applications. On its higher end Unix and mainframe systems, IBM uses in-house technology for these types of tasks.

VMware, however, appears to have convinced IBM of its independence. To its credit, EMC saw the need to keep VMware neutral moving forward, as it has attracted attention from HP, Dell and a host of other server/software makers on top of IBM.

VMware currently claims 5,500 customers and 2.5 million users of its products. ®

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