The global battle for server sales, which is worth over $40 billion a year, is intensifying, and several companies in the Triangle will be affected.

Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) Monday. One of its allies in the new venture is Red Hat (NYSE: RHT). Cisco is going to move into a new product line with "blade servers”, which are actually multiple servers or blades loaded in one space-saving chassis.

Red Hat last month.

EMC (Nasdaq: EMC), which has two operations in the Triangle, also is part of Cisco’s “Unified Computing System.” The offering includes hardware, storage and virtualization technology as well as new chips in the Xeon high-performance line from Intel.

According to Cisco, its system can reduce costs of ownership of similar systems by 20 percent in capital expenditure and as much as 30 percent in operational costs.

Cisco previously had focused on networking services rather than the storage core of data centers. The so-called Project California also includes other Cisco gear and offerings.

“We never enter a market from the standpoint of just a box,” Cisco Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Chambers said Monday. “We enter it with the idea of an architecture.”

By unveiling servers that target data centers, will be taking on market leader (NYSE: IBM) as well as Hewlett-Packard and Dell (Nasdaq: Dell). Dell manufactures servers at its plant in Winston-Salem, N.C..

However, Cisco downplayed the new product line as a threat to other companies.

“Cisco is creating a sub-category of the server market – a specialized market we call Unified Computing,” Cisco’s Douglas Gourlay, who is vice president of data center solutions, wrote in a blog. “This is not the ‘Clash of the Titans’ or us ‘coming after HP or IBM or Dell’. Some companies may choose to join us in this market, others may continue to operate the status quo. We are certain over time we will not be alone in this market.”

Much of IBM’s server work is done in the Research Triangle Park area.

Also working with Cisco are Intel, Microsoft, BMC Software and Accenture.

Cisco and are now original equipment manufacturing (OEM) partners. Cisco will include Red Hat’s recently released Virtualization series of Linux offerings. The two firms will offer joint services and support.

Virtualization is a technology that enables devices such as servers and computers to support multiple operating systems.

“Virtualization made this Unified Computing market possible,” Gourlay wrote. “It also made the test and qualification of thousands of applications (a traditional barrier to entry created by the incumbents to justifiably reduce customer risk) much less necessary than before. Virtualization also made the workloads portable, even across vendors, thus we fully expect to be happily inter-operating with other vendors in traditional server markets for many years in the future.”

Cisco also will offer solutions that do not require or include virtualization.

"Red Hat and Cisco have long collaborated in the open source community and today bring joint innovation to customers through the combination of our next-generation enterprise solutions," said Brian Stevens, chief technology officer and vice president, engineering, at Red Hat. "Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization technologies power a wide range of the world’s mission-critical, Internet and high-performance computing workloads, as well as the majority of the early cloud environments. Cisco’s Unified Computing vision offers customers a long-term platform for deploying powerful computing infrastructures."