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The i's Have It

Win another iPod. Still with me here? This week, the Pipelines bring you the Hardware Hall of Fame, a look at the coolest hardware of the past 10 years or so--the stuff that we felt changed our computing experiences, and most likely yours as well. You may have your own ideas about that, of course, so have a look, send us your thoughts....and by all means register for a shot at winning an iPod.


The other "i" of the week is IBM's iSeries, the server line that is the continuation of Big Blue's efforts in the midrange enterprise market for nearly two decades now. These servers are the logical heir to two of IBM's most storied franchises, the AS/400 and the venerable System/38 (a machine on which my brother worked as a programmer analyst many moons ago). And this week shows us that IBM, after forgetting this market segment for a while by its own admission, is out to recapture some territory with the iSeries. The company launched an initiative in February to aggressively court partners and developers for the iSeries and says it's seeing some success with that program, with a host of software providers and tools vendors responding to IBM's investment program to encourage their work on iSeries software.

The competition is a little different these days than it was back in the late '80s and early '90s, though, when the thought of Microsoft squaring up against the AS/400 would have been kind of silly. But times change, and it's Microsoft that's the main obstacle to IBM midrange success, using Windows Server 2003 and powerful commodity machines to maintain market share. IBM sees three ways it can take on Microsoft here:

  • Offering better security (Windows' bete noire)
  • Using the iSeries to encourage use of a heterogeneous environment that allows access not only to Windows but also to Linux, AIX, and IBM's own i5/OS and OS/400 operating systems (the latter being the direct link to those old IBM machines) before Windows can propagate its own virtualization scheme
  • And getting a lot more partners on board with the aforementioned iSeries partner program.

History certainly shows that IBM can make plenty of inroads into a market when it decides to turn its attention to it. So, midrange customers, prepare to be courted. And while IBM looks to get back some numbers in that segment, it's also turning its attention to why Dell seems to be eating some of its xSeries lunch. Hey, we here at Server Pipeline love a competitive server marketplace --so bring it on.