Networking equipment giant Cisco Systems and storage systems supplier EMC Corp have teamed up to help Hong Kong firms increase the adoption of efficiency-building technologies, especially virtualisation, in their computer networks. 'We have a shared vision to support the efforts of Hong Kong companies to become more competitive amid the challenging economic environment,' said Barbara Chiu Cheuk-mun, the general manager at Cisco Hong Kong and Macau. Ms Chiu said Cisco and EMC, which owns leading virtualisation software supplier VMware, had started discussions with about 60 mutual corporate customers in Hong Kong to accelerate the redesign of their data centres. The unified system and related products being pushed by Cisco combines computing, network, storage access and virtualisation into a scalable, more automated architecture that uses fewer servers in a data centre, thus saving on power and operating costs for companies. It 'offers a clean-sheet approach to solve data centre challenges' and 'reduces costs', said Vernon Turner, a senior vice-president at research firm International Data Corp. Virtualisation enables users to manage and partition server and storage system resources into multiple devices. EMC Hong general manager Gabriel Leung Shing-koon said: 'We expect to do a lot of hand-holding [of clients] over the next few months as they consider their readiness.' Singapore-based Springboard Research estimates the market for virtualisation software and services in the Asia-Pacific will reach US$1.35 billion next year. On the software side, Microsoft Corp is closely competing against VMware in the region. In services, the leading players are International Business Machines Corp, Hewlett-Packard and Dell.