Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) fired back at Cisco Systems ( CSCO) Monday, unveiling its BladeSystem Matrix technology, which it's touting as a "datacenter in a box".

Despite conjuring up images of Keanu Reeves battling shadowy "Agents" in a future world, this Matrix is essentially a rack packed with servers, storage and networking gear. H-P is clearly on the warpath after its long-time partner Cisco recently entered the server market with its Unified Computing System.

With rival IBM ( IBM) recently circling Sun Microsystems ( JAVA), now destined to become part of Oracle ( ORCL), H-P's competitive landscape is in a state of flux. With so much uncertainty in the tech spending climate, the last thing H-P needs is Cisco stepping on its toes.

Cue the BladeSystem Matrix, which H-P claims will reduce users' IT costs by consolidating their hardware and software into one place.

"Think of it as a pool of computer, networking and storage resources," said Jim Ganthier, vice president of H-P's enterprise storage and server division. "We cover all the types of assets that you have in your data center."

Like Cisco's UCS, H-P is also touting built-in virtualization.

Virtualization, which lets users divide physical hardware into multiple 'virtual' chunks has grown in popularity among users looking to juggle a myriad of operating systems and applications. Despite plenty of hype from the likes of VMware ( VMW), however, analysts estimate that anywhere from 50% to 75% of datacenters have still not adopted the technology, and H-P is eyeing this opportunity.

According to Ganthier, the Matrix will come with H-P's 'Virtual Connect' technology, which manages server, storage and networking resources.

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