This newly enhanced low-end UNIX offering clearly unveils another piece of IBM's strategy to grab additional UNIX market share, especially among the entry-level segment. Says Jean Bozman of IDC, "Considering the overall downtrend in UNIX/RISC servers over the past year, entry-level servers remain fairly steady. This [announcement of the p615] demonstrates the results of IBM's continued strong marketing of its UNIX/RISC servers--combined with competitive pricing--as IBM works to gain market share during the economic downturn." Continues Bozman, "IT managers appear to be adding incremental capacity to existing UNIX/RISC server installations by buying UNIX/RISC entry servers."
The p615 is certainly well-positioned for several market segments: as a standalone server for commercial computing applications in the SMB space, as inexpensive add-on capacity to high-performance clusters, and for use in distributed systems in branch offices and retail locations.
The p615 is available in both a 4U rack-mount model (6C3) and a compact desk-side model (6E3). In addition to the processing power and the memory/disk capacities already mentioned, there are four standard and four optional hot-swappable disk drive bays, three media bays, and six hot-plug PCI-X I/O adapter slots. The p615 includes redundant hot-plug cooling fans, and redundant hot-plug power supplies are available as an option. Plus, there are integrated ports for 10/100/1000 and 10/100 Mb/second Ethernet, two internal Ultra3 SCSI ports, three serial ports, and two HMC ports.
Keep in mind that despite all of the features of the p615, it cannot be partitioned; therefore, customers who want to run both AIX and Linux at the same time will have to move up to the model p630. IBM says, however, that it hasn't ruled out enabling the p615 for partitions down the road.
In addition to being more than twice as fast as its predecessor, the new p615 is available at about a third less cost. A minimally equipped one-way processor machine starts at $5,745. The basic two-way processor machine starts at $9,995--unless you only want a Linux-capable machine, in which case the price drops $1,000; however, you are on your own to either buy and load Linux elsewhere or order it through IBM for $1,100. The p615 includes a one-year hardware warranty, and those shipped with the AIX OS include one year of IBM Software Maintenance.
A variety of Express Configurations are available with the p615, both with AIX 5L and without (Linux-ready). Express configurations for the one-way processor include from 1 MB to 8 MB of memory and 36.4 GB of disk, and they range from $5,745 to $11,895 (the price stays the same whether ordered with AIX or "Linux-ready"). Two-way express configurations include from 2 MB to 8 MB of memory and two 36.4 GB drives, and they range from $8,995 and $9,995 for Linux-ready and AIX, respectively, to $15,600 and $14,600.
IBM intends to make gains on Sun in the low-end UNIX market even though Sun has lower-cost entry-level offerings. The value proposition of the p615 is based not only on its price/performance numbers, but also on the many value-add enticements, including Recovery, Availability, Serviceability (RAS) features (e.g., first-failure data capture, chipkill memory bit steering, hot-swappable disk drives, and PCI adapters), autonomic features, remote management functions, etc.
On top of these features, IBM also has bragging rights on scalability among entry-level UNIX boxes. In disk capacity alone, the p615 can accommodate over 1 TB of internal disk storage, which is eight times as much disk storage capacity as the Sun V240 (1.17 TB versus 144 GB) and 2.6 times as much disk storage as the HP rx2600(1.17 TB versus 438 GB).
Additionally, the rack-mount p615 Model 6C3 is also cluster-enabled, providing a low-cost addition to cluster environments. In fact, up to 64 p615 machines running Cluster Systems Management (CSM) for AIX 5L can be connected via Ethernet with other pSeries servers within an IBM Cluster1600 system.
The one-way pSeries 615 Express Configurations became available May 30, while the two-way pSeries 615 Express Configurations are planned for June 20 availability. Support of pSeries 615 Model 6C3 in Cluster 1600 systems is planned for July 25.
Finally, the May 27 pSeries announcement also included some new capabilities and new express configurations for the p630 line:
- For the p630, an optional 48v DC power supply is available, as is Network Equipment Building System (NEBS) Level 3 standards compliance. These are provided to meet the requirements of Telco and wireless providers and to improve operations in harsh environments. In addition, Remote I/O - 2 (RIO-2) attachment of I/O expansion drawers, and RIO-2 support for SP Switch2 attachment to Cluster 1600 systems are now available.
- New Express Configurations are available for the two-way desk-side p630-6E4 and the rack-mount p630-6C4. These p630 Express Configurations offer one two-way 1.2 GHz POWER4+ processor, 4 GB of memory, and two 36.4 GB disk drives. Depending on whether they include AIX, the Express Configurations are priced from 24% to 35% below standard list prices.