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IBM Serves Up New Datacenter Architecture

IBM has introduced what it considers a new category of servers, a family of “expert integrated systems” called PureSystems. The company says PureSystems go beyond the various converged infrastructure or unified system approaches of its peers by adding a new middleware layer that aims to automate both infrastructure and applications, offering workflows from IBM itself, from its third-party partners, and offering IT the ability to define its own workflows.

At launch, there are two products in the family: PureFlex, which integrates server, storage and networking into one package; and PureApplication, which automates software based on the patterns and processes of IBM’s own work with customers and partners.

The IT giant makes a significant argument for simplification and cost reduction, saying that a PureSystems-based datacenter can be rolled out 98% faster, and provide a 45% saving in budget cost compared to a datacenter built on more traditional industry-standard servers. The company also claims a 43% reduction in energy usage due to greater density and the ability to automatically scale resources as needed.

Calling PureSystems an entirely new category of system in the datacenter may seem like marketing hyperbole, but Charles King, principal at industry analyst Pund-IT, says it’s an apt description, “especially when compared to what competitors are doing with converged infrastructures.”

While King says that the decisions made in developing PureSystems (IBM says it was a four-year, $2 billion research and development effort) were “informed” by its BladeCenter offerings, “the new solutions offer the deeper levels of system and software integration that optimized performance requires.”

PureSystems features IBM’s new “Patterns of Expertise” technology, a middleware layer that essentially aims to convert human technology expertise into a repeatable, reusable, downloadable package. Patterns of Expertise can come from IBM itself, speeding application deployment and automating previously manual tasks, from the company’s ISV partners to help automate their own applications, or can be written by IT organizations to automate systems on a much more custom level.

Chris Pratt, strategic initiatives executive at IBM, says it follows the IT department axiom that “hardware is cheap, software is expensive and people are priceless”, by automating as much of IT staff’s expertise as possible, freeing up additional time for IT to focus on innovation and new applications, as opposed to “just keeping the lights on.”

King says that while IT has tended to take a “if you want a job done right, do it yourself” approach, many IT departments are likely to be receptive to IBM’s automation message, particularly with the ability to author custom processes factored in.

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