Cisco and IBM have come clean over a data centre affair that will see Cisco's switches plug directly into an IBM chassis.

First up will be a new version of Cisco's Intelligent Gigabit Ethernet Switch Module (IGESM) that will slot into IBM's eServer BladeCenter server. Then, IBM will improve support for Cisco products with updated management software, including Tivoli Provisioning Manager and SAN Manager, as well as better support Cisco products across its Global Services group (Cisco's Catalyst 6500 and MDS 9000 SAN switch).

"What we're talking about here is a far reaching agreement to really integrate Cisco networking technologies with our systems and software," said Jeff Benck, VP of IBM's BladeCenter product line.

Benck declined to say though whether IBM planned to work with Cisco on integrating any other switches into BladeCenter. "We're not at this point ready to announce other activities. That doesn't mean we're not working together," he said.

The IGESM module, which can be managed with BladeCenter's management software, will be available in May and will cost $4,999 (£2,830).

Cisco was caught giving IBM a kiss earlier this week when it announced that IBM would resell the MDS9000 with mainframe FICON connectivity.