The company announces three new POWER6 servers along with special financing.
IBM introduced a new generation of POWER6 servers last week at COMMON and consolidated the System i and System p brands onto one hardware platform.
The new servers, to be packaged under the umbrella title of IBM Power Systems, will run one or all of the company's three major SMB operating systems: i5/OS, AIX, and Linux. The company's flagship integrated platform i5/OS, whose name was more closely affiliated with the POWER5 chip, has been renamed simply IBM i. The company also said that V6R1 would be renamed to 6.1 in accordance with the industry's conventional naming protocols.
The company introduced three new servers as part of the announcement, including the IBM Power 520 Express, the IBM Power 550 Express, and the i Edition Express for BladeCenter S model JS12. Pricing for the three new servers will start under $9,000 for the Power 520. The JS12 blade will start at under $5,000, or, with the added cost of the enclosure, virtually identical to the most popular configuration of the i Edition of the Power 520, which runs about $12,000.
All three servers will be available by the end of next month. The Power 520 will be available on April 18, the Power 550 on May 23, and the JS12 Blade on May 30. IBM said the new servers will provide both IBM and System i and System p clients with a "single, unified line of servers with simplified pricing, increased application choice, and reduced energy administration costs."
The servers will offer advanced energy control features through POWER6 EnergyScale Technology and will allow clients to create up to 160 virtual partitions in a single system through Power VM virtualization technology.
When running one of the three available operating systems, the servers will become known as the i Edition, AIX Edition, or Linux Edition. Customers will be able to order à la carte and mix and match i, AIX, and Linux operating systems on a single Power server.
"The newly unified IBM Power Systems product line brings tremendous value and investment protection to our clients," said Ross Mauri, general manager of IBM Power Systems. "Over the last few years, we have been sharing more and more technology between System i and System p in preparation to enable clients to leverage the same platform," he said. "This unification, embodied in the first of a new generation of power systems, will create additional opportunities for our clients to optimize their IT infrastructures," Mauri said.
While some users questioned the wisdom of naming i5/OS simply "IBM i," others pointed out that the old name was associated with the POWER5 chip and would therefore have been mismatched with the new processors.
"The name signifies integration and more closely matches the new processors," said Joe Clabby, an analyst and president of Clabby Analytics of Yarmouth, Maine.
Clabby said that he believes the consolidation of hardware for all three operating systems is a move that is going to put IBM and its Business Partners in a far more favorable position competitively against Intel-based server manufacturers.
"If you are buying the same components for all three servers, you can buy in larger quantities and therefore at a lower cost," Clabby said. "The same is true for spare part inventories in that it will be cheaper overall because you don't have to stock spare parts for three different machines."
"I expect a reduction in costs all the way around and think it's a really good move," Clabby said in an interview with MC Press Online.
Mark Shearer, vice president of Marketing and Offerings, IBM Business Systems, Systems and Technology Group said, "Just about 20 years ago, we took two successful products, the System/36 and the System/38, and we unified them into the AS/400 and really drove a leading solution for the mid-market with the combined capabilities. With this launch, we're doing that again by unifying two families of products into a single product family and allowing the clients to virtualize and combine any amount of i5/OS [IBM i], AIX, or Linux on a platform."
"As you know, the System i has been capable of this for several years, but we're doing this on a consolidated hardware platform now, so there will be one set of hardware products with one set of hardware prices, one set of terms and conditions, one set of maintenance terms flexible enough to run any combination of i5/OS [IBM i], AIX, and Linux, and it should be a lot more affordable now for clients to virtualize these different operating environments on a power platform," Shearer said.
IBM also announced that IBM Global Financing, the lending and leasing business segment of IBM, announced a new package of financing offerings to support clients who want to buy new Power Systems. Among the provisions of the new offering are:
•· One platform with a single monthly lease price with total financing for Power Systems that includes the hardware platform, operating system, peripherals, and maintenance at a single price.
•· Ability to upgrade the user's present lease for little or no change in monthly payments. IBM said that in some cases, monthly payments may be even lower. This might occur because the new systems could easily have fewer processors, resulting in lower operating system costs.
•· Low-rate financing and six-month deferrals for select low-end models.
•· What IBM Global Financing called "unsurpassed asset recovery" and buyback services as well as a green solution for older computers.
•· Benefits from the Economic Stimulus Advantage, offering U.S. clients a reduction in their monthly payments or a deferral on lease payments for the first three months.
•· Local country promotions in Benelux, France, the UK, Japan, and Asia/Pacific.
"In today's economic environment, where concerns about the availability of credit may be an issue, our package of Power financing solutions will help clients access the new Power technology at competitive rates and terms," said John Callies, general manager of IBM Global Financing.
The Power Systems announcement was made at COMMON's annual conference and expo in Nashville, Tennessee, because IBM wanted to time it with the gathering of System i users.
"The majority of our clients--over 90 percent--are in the types of machines like the 520 and 550," said Ian Jarman, manager, Power Systems Software, IBM Power Systems. "Obviously, we wanted to make the announcement of the unification and those products to our i community, and there is no better place to do that than here at COMMON," he said.
"We're delighted that IBM chose to make this announcement at COMMON," said Randy Dufault, COMMON president. "COMMON members gave IBM their input on these ideas beforehand, and we are 100 percent behind them. We believe they will be positive for our members and anticipate that they could well contribute to an upswing in our organization's membership in years to come as we reach out to new members," he said.
IBM said that the announcement was the first among several and that larger-class POWER6 servers would be announced in the near future.