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VMware clobbers the world, while big, solid disks rise

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Year in review Our most recent orbit around the sun has been a busy one for the world of servers, chips and storage.

New (old) technology has invaded the data center, disks got bigger, chips got smaller and everyone decided to become a Planeteer.

Virtualization - Like you didn't know it was coming

EMC finally sold shares of its x86 virtualization software maker VMware, creating one of the IPO stunners of the year as well as the latest darling of the industry. The sale was a much-desired appeasement to investors who had grown bitter watching VMware sales explode while EMC's share price had sputtered at about $13.75 for as long as anyone could remember.

The hype over hypervisors was well into a full foam as EMC announced the deal. But when the VMware shares hit Wall Street, the resulting rich and creamy lather reminded one and all the tech IPO madness of the late 1990s could still rise to haunt us.

Citrix turned out its pockets and found $500m to acquire XenSource, the developer of the open source Xen hypervisor. The enormous sum gave Citrix some much-needed market appeal while giving XenSource the corporate R&D backing to fight its hulking rival VMware.

XenSource had previously been struggling to capture a significant piece of the virtualization battlefield despite strong ties with both Linux and Windows camps. Sun and Virtual Iron are tinkering away at their virtualization products based on Xen as well.

Microsoft? Nah, we'll just have to wait until next year for that one.

iSCSI Storage A-Go-Go

If server virtualization is the strapping, athletic youth of the data center, storage virtualization is the short fat kid huffing, "Hey! Wait up guys! Come on! Wait up!"

There's one in every group.

In truth, the storage guys used to lead the server clan with virtualization. A couple of years back, the likes of EMC, IBM, Hitachi and HP made peace around their storage APIs. After that they all went charging after heterogeneous, virtualized software glory.

These days, however, the server crowd receives all the attention because it's more flash than the disk set.

Still, storage firms did take a stand this year with a new virtualization pitch, pinning their hopes on iSCSI. It's the poor man's - sorry SMBs' - route to flexible file sharing.

Dell did iSCSI, NetApp did it, IBM did it, EMC...

Dell, in fact, loves iSCSI so much that it acquired EqualLogic for $1.4bn. Of course, it already had an iSCSI OEM deal with EMC. Awkward. That should bring some interesting conflicts in 2008. A reporter can dream, can't he?

What else happened in 2007? Let us help you remember.

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