Enterprise IT shops might soon get another option for virtualising their entire data centre - Cisco.

The company is gearing up to sell a new, possibly disruptive server in the next few months, according to one report. The networking giant will elbow its way into a market where Dell, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard are the stalwarts - and do so on the back of a server housing virtualisation software, The New York Times reported on Monday.

Cisco's CTO Padmasree Warrior said in the Times article that the company's goal is to virtualise the whole data centre and, as such, the server is just the first in a series of products to achieve that.

Although Warrior said the new product will spark "a market transition," rather than an entirely new market, and she downplayed the fact that Cisco will be competing against companies that it currently partners with, one analyst suggested it could be the most important product of the year and will likely draw "massive competitive reactions from IBM and HP."

The Times article added that Cisco could demo the products by March. Cisco declined to describe the product but Times sources said the server would come bundled with networking software from Cisco and VMware virtualization software.

Hewlett-Packard, for its part, last week injected orchestration and recovery into AI, its Adaptive Infrastructure for data centre management, to enhance its Insight Dynamics virtualisation software.

Jonathan Eunice, principal IT advisor at Illuminata, said that many of the investments he sees enterprise IT shops making today involve virtualisation and consolidation because they can ultimately remove related costs from technology budgets.

Indeed, Forrester Research in a report in November ranked "accelerate your consolidation, virtualisation, and automation efforts" as the second in a list of five steps infrastructure professional should take in a down economy. And InfoWorld found that virtualisation is among the five top spending priorities in tight times for IT shops.

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