IBM Flashes Its Blade

IBM will announce enhancements to its telecom-specific blade server at next week's Supercomm show in Chicago

June 17, 2004

3 Min Read
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IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) will use next weeks Supercomm conference in Chicago to launch a package of pre-bundled blade server software targeted at the telecom market.

Earlier this year IBM launched its Blade Center T, a blade server aimed specifically at telecom firms (see IBM's BladeServer Blitz). Now, the hardware firm is looking to exploit the popularity of blade servers and Linux -- another hot technology in the data center

The company’s eServer Integrated Platform for Telecommunications (IPT), which will be unveiled next week, gives service providers the opportunity to purchase pre-tested Linux integrated onto the BladeCenter T. Previously, telecom firms had to purchase the server and the software separately, and then undertake all the necessary integration work prior to running applications.

However, the company is staying tight-lipped on exactly which open source "flavors" from specialist software vendors will be supported, although Jim Pertzborn, vice president of eServer strategy at IBM, promises that it will be “carrier-grade” Linux.

Pertzborn believes that IPT will help telecoms firms deploy their own products more quickly. He says, “We give them a faster path in terms of time to market for them to deploy applications.”But it is not just in the area of Linux where IBM will be selling its new blade package. The hardware firm is also integrating its DB2 database and WebSphere Application Server products onto a pre-packaged blade solution for telecom firms.

The move could be a shrewd one by IBM. Increasingly, companies are looking to run Linux on their server infrastructures in the hope of saving money compared to proprietary software. Cindy Borovick, program director for IDC’s data center networks program says, “In the longer term, given the internal architecture of Linux, the overall management of the system could be easier -- thereby it could reduce management costs.”

But, ironically, the projected cost savings of using open source software are actually pushing up the cost of Linux servers. IDC’s latest quarterly worldwide server tracker reported that the cost of Linux servers had actually grown 7 percent year-on-year. This was in contrast to the current trend of falling server and mainframe prices (see Get Set for Server Savings).

Nonetheless, Forrester Research Inc.

estimates that, by the end of this year, close to 10 percent of Global 2,000 companies will have migrated from Windows servers to Linux for their basic network system infrastructures.

A recent poll of Next-gen Data Center Forum readers also underlined the popularity of Linux in the data center. Around three quarters of respondents said that they had either deployed the open source software, or were considering doing so (see NDCF Linux Poll).But the growth of Linux is matched by the increasing popularity of blade server technology. IDC estimates that blade servers will represent nearly 29 percent of server unit shipments by the end of 2008.

IBM’s Linux launch next week is part of the company’s ongoing attempts to steal a march on its fierce blade rival Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ).

The Palo-Alto, Calif., company has yet to launch a telecom- specific blade, although the firm recently announced that it had sold its 100,000th blade server. HP also unveiled its latest blade product, the two-processor Proliant BL30p (see HP Reaches Blade Milestone).

Like IBM, HP is also keen to tap the twin markets for Linux and blade servers. The company says that a user migrating from a 48-processor Sun Solaris machine to 24 two-processor ProLiant blade servers running Linux could use a technology called "cluster file systems" to create one large server offering capacity on demand and 100 percent redundancy. According to HP, this could be achieved at approximately 30 to 50 percent of the cost of the original system.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-gen Data Center Forum0

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