Power5 added to eServer line-up

Big Blue’s next generation of Unix and Linux servers based on the Power5 microprocessor will give partners server consolidation opportunities, said a company executive.

“”Consolidation is a tremendous service opportunity especially with medium size and small customers that lack the in-house

expertise,”” said Jim McGaughan, director of eServer strategy for IBM pSeries.

Mainframe technology

The new IBM eServer p5 systems, which launched in July and will be shipped to distributors at the end of this month, use a technology borrowed from its zSeries mainframe called Micro-Partitioning. This enables users to run a maximum of ten virtual servers or Micro-Partitions on a single microprocessor. One virtual server used to require a minimum of one processor, a disk drive and a LAN adapter (Ethernet).

“”It’s like having an automobile that goes at 250 km/h but only being able to drive it on roads that allow you to go 90,”” said McGaughan.

Powered by the Power5 microprocessor, which debuted this past March and is used in iSeries, p5 systems can scale from a two-way to a 16-way server that customer’s can choose from to meet their computing needs.

Software options

Power5 systems run on both existing and new versions of IBM’s Unix OS, AIX5L V5.2 and AIX5L V5.3, RedHat and Novell SUSE Linux software. Users also have the option of running a combination of Unix and Linux.

The Power4 microprocessor, which originally launched in 2001, in part has allowed IBM to become a major contendor in the Unix server market against rivals Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. over the last couple of years. IBM, HP and Sun make up 95 per cent of the Unix server market in Canada, according to IDC.

“”IBM had previously been a clear second tier not really challenging them for the Unix share lead,”” said Greg Ambrose, IDC Canada analyst. “”Now they’re a recognized threat in any given quarter they could be a number one player in the market.””

For the first quarter this year, IDC Canada reported IBM held 35 per cent of the Unix server market in terms of revenue compared with 24 per cent for the same period in 2003. Ambrose added that in 2003 as a whole, HP lead the market with 36 per cent share. For all of 2002, Sun had 37 per cent of the market.

One throat to choke

Dave Mountain, vice-president of sales at Mid-Range Computer Group, said the Micro-Partitioning technology presents server consolidation opportunities for customers who have purchased multiple servers over the years. The Markham, Ont.-based firm sells IBM iSeries, pSeries and xSeries servers, storage and software and offers professional services to the mid-market.

“”It reduces the cost of maintenance. It gets you one throat to choke if something goes wrong. It just makes a lot of sense for a customer,”” said Mountain.

He said on average partners can make between 12 and 14 margin points from the sale.

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