VMware and IBM: competitors or not?

Quite a month ago IBM annonced will release its own Virtualization Engine (should be official name), competing against Microsoft and EMC/VMware.
Probably this surprising announce, after years of partnership IBM and VMware (just think about xSeries and ESX Server bundle), unleashed some reactions at VMware headquarter.
But after three weeks of silence VMware announce partnership renew for three years with IBM, extending virtualization product line that Big Blue can sell with xSeries and (new entry) BladeCenter.

Quoting an article from Web Hosting Industry News:

Virtualization software developer VMware (vmware.com) announced this week that it has extended its strategic alliance with IBM (ibm.com) for three years. The alliance was first formed in 2002.

Under the agreement, IBM will offer VMware VirtualCenter, VMware VMotion, VMware ESX Server and VMware Virtual SMP software products on the IBM eServer xSeries and BladeCenter systems worldwide. IBM will offer the BladeCenter license pack with VMware integrated solutions designed specifically for eServer BladeCenter systems.

“Being able to virtualize computing and manage systems remotely is a critical aspect of on demand computing,” says Leo Suarez, vice president of IBM eServer xSeries products. “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.”

According to VMware, IBM eServer xSeries and BladeCenter systems running VMware virtual infrastructure software help customers lower their total costs by reducing the size and complexity of their IT infrastructures. VMware ESX Server and IBM BladeCenter solutions can host more than 100 virtual machines in a single BladeCenter chassis with 28 CPUs.

“With the signing of our expanded agreement and the inclusion of VMware in IBM’s Virtualization Engine strategy, our relationship with IBM continues to grow,” says Diane Greene, president of VMware. “Most importantly, our shared customers will benefit from efficient and flexible IT resources and increased hardware utilization on the IBM eServer xSeries and BladeCenter systems.”

This is strange (but not too much). IBM moves against VMware, but VMware opens arms renewing and enlarging partnership. Some could think this was the right moment to focus on partnership with Dell (since Dell always had partnership with EMC Corporation), instead VMware prefers to lay in bed with a past-friend / future-enemy.
Strange even more thinking that IBM and EMC compete on storage market…