Interview: IBM's Adalio Sanchez On The pSeries

Although the demand for Unix servers is down, IBM's share of this $20 billion market grew 4 points last year. Adalio Sanchez, IBM general manager for the pSeries, details the

March 17, 2004

4 Min Read
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The best thing that may have ever happened to IBM's pSeries is the stagnation of the Unix market. Although the demand for Unix servers is down, IBM's share of this $20 billion market grew 4 points last year, according to research firm IDC, and revenue was up 12 percent. In an interview with CRN Editor in Chief Michael Vizard, Adalio Sanchez, IBM general manager for the pSeries, details the company's strategy and the opportunities for solution providers partnering with IBM in 2004.

CRN: A lot of people talk about the Unix server market as if it's dead. Why should solution providers be paying attention to what IBM is doing in this space?

Sanchez: The pSeries is the fastest-growing platform in the Unix industry. When you look at the Unix market today, it's a $20 [billion] to $21 billion market opportunity. It's not growing very fast, but it's still the lion's share of the server market. So it's a big market, and we're growing in it. People should feel confident that a $20 billion market is not going away tomorrow.

CRN: What do you attribute that growth to?

Sanchez: We made significant investments in the Power architecture, retooled our products and brought AIX up to a leadership level. We also made investments in the underlying microelectronics. In so doing, we brought technologies down from our mainframe heritage to the Unix world. People are not only buying more performance, but also reliability, and we provided all that at less cost. As we go forward, I want to go after the performance-oriented customer segment with our Power 4, 4++and Power 5 systems coming up, and for people who want better economics that is what Linux on Power is all about. We're bringing mainframe capabilities to the Unix world, but you can't do that on Intel.CRN: There has been a tremendous amount of adoption of Linux running on Intel platforms among what use to be Unix/RISC shops. How will you counter Intel's move into your base of customers?

Sanchez: Consolidation has largely been an Intel phenomenon. Fact of the matter is, what is making people move over is economics. We believe that's what our Linux on Power play is all about. We have a unique advantage in that we can create an alternative to Linux on Intel that has the robustness of Power coupled with the advantages of Linux.

CRN: Intel argues that the PC business gives them economies of scale that rivals can't match. IBM has signed deals with a number of gaming platform providers. How do those deals help pSeries customers?

Sanchez: Our answer to Intel is games. We get our economies of scale through the game business. Getting that business was a strategic decision to ensure the long-term feasibility of our systems road map. They have PCs. We get there through gaming platforms.

CRN: What differentiates IBM from RISC rivals such as Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard?Sanchez: The average rate of utilization on a Unix server is 15 [percent] to 20 percent, compared with 75 [percent] to 80 percent on a mainframe. This is because people in the Unix market still deploy one application per server. Even as the engines have become more powerful, people still only have one application per server. With the advent of Power 4 and AIX 5.2, we've added dynamic logical portioning. So now you can take applications running on eight different servers and run it on one processor. We also have a road map that can be articulated. We're a safe choice. People want a vendor that can show them longevity and stability. We sell RISC systems with a 'c.' Our competitors sell RISC systems with a 'k.' They are passing risk on to their customers.

CRN: What differentiates the pSeries from the iSeries?

Sanchez: The iSeries is targeted at the medium-size customer. The iSeries is the mainframe for that customer. They value integration and don't want to invest money in creating an IT shop. They like to have the operating system and the database tightly integrated. Traditional Unix customers want to decide on their own stack and applications and manage things their own way. They want a la carte. If you homogenize those things, you meet the needs of neither customer set. So the overlap between these types of customers is very little.

CRN: IBM talks up e-business on demand a lot. But some solution providers worry this is code for eliminating the need for technical services from them. When all is said and done, why should they embrace e-business on demand?

Sanchez: We're reducing the cost of infrastructure so customers can go invest in applications and better business processes. Today, customers are spending all their money on keeping the lights going instead of investing in their businesses. Anytime you try to protect a business in this industry, you just get crushed. You can't be a rearview-mirror person. You have to look forward. If we solve customer problems and save them money, chances are they will reinvest that money with us. If you try to do something to protect your business, someone else will come up with the idea. E-business on demand is about taking IT infrastructure to the next level.This article appears courtesy of CRN.

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