As I was writing last week about the LAN switching function embedded in blade servers, Nortel and IBM were forging an agreement to combine their network and server expertise, respectively.The companies said Nortel will build LAN switches for use in the IBM eServer BladeCenter. The switches would govern network traffic among the blades in the server. Blades, as you'll recall, are thin, low-power servers that would fit into a large rack. They can often be used in clusters to address complex tasks.The companies are also saying the LAN switch to be used in the blade server chassis will be "advanced," meaning that security functions will be embedded in the switch. They are saying that one of the benefits is that management and maintenance will be made easier, since putting everything in one place will simplify the network infrastructure. IBM Director software will manage the whole shebang.IBM got out of the network business several years ago, selling most of it to Cisco. Since then, Cisco and IBM have turned into close partners in a lot of network-related areas. From that perspective, it's interesting that IBM has chosen to go with Nortel for its blade server switches.