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New IBM x86 Servers and Software Promise to Reduce Data Center Costs

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 The latest rack, blade, and iDataPlex technology take x86 computing to new heights.


One announcement from IBM at the beginning of last month that got only passing mention was that of a new line of Intel-based servers that should be of interest to technophiles.


The new Xeon processor 5500 series servers, along with new software, are anticipated to help reduce the growing costs of operating a data center through higher performance, simplified management, and better resource utilization. Today's data center is being challenged by costlier energy and the need for people to tweak today's myriad platforms and interconnected databases.


IBM's four new x86 rack servers and blades require much lower wattage than those of the previous generation, resulting in reduced energy costs up to 93 percent. Performance of course, is way up--double earlier models--and memory options range from 96 GB to a whopping 1 TB. The thought behind the new servers is to help users transition to more-efficient virtualized environments.


"The world is going through changes that require IT professionals in every industry to consolidate, virtualize, and support a variety of different platforms--a mix of operating systems, hardware, middleware, and applications," says Adalio Sanchez, general manager, IBM System x. "...There is no one-size-fits-all solution for most businesses," says Sanchez. "... System x. supports multiple architectures and is designed to lower ownership costs and enable new paradigms such as cloud computing."


New Server Products

The new products include the following:


IBM Blade Center HS22

This two-socket blade is designed to run a broad range of workloads. Revamped for 2009, it has three times as much memory as its predecessor and can process twice as many transactions per minute. IBM says that customers can achieve as high as 11-to-1 consolidation ratio by migrating from older rack and blade servers onto the HS22 blade, while saving up to 93 percent in energy costs, according to an IBM Power Engineering study released in February. Two hot-swap internal storage bays provide for a choice of SAS, SATA, or solid-state storage options.


IBM System x3650 M2 and x3550 M2

These two-socket enterprise servers deliver speeds up to 6.4 GB/s and offer very efficient power supplies exceeding the "80 Plus Gold" standard, counter-rotating fans, altimeters, and advanced power management. This new line of Intel processors delivers unprecedented intelligent performance with features like adaptive performance for applications and environments, turbo boost and hyper-threading technology, integrated power gates, and automated power management. See the product guide for more details on this great system.


IBM System x iDataPlex dx360 M2

This server was designed specifically for data centers that require high performance but have limited floor space, power, and cooling infrastructure. This server has five times the computing density that a 1U rack server offers and can cool a data center 70 percent more efficiently because of its Rear Door Heat Exchanger. The University of Toronto's SciNet Consortium will be using the system connected to a massive 5 petabyte storage complex to perform some 360 trillion calculations per second. The iDataPlex apparently also is a good choice for managed hosting companies, such as Latisys of Fairfax, Virginia, which wanted a system that would allow it to rapidly scale its business.


Express Models for Midsize Businesses

IBM also introduced three new Express model servers designed for midsize companies. The System x3650 M2 Express and x3550 M2 Express are rack-mounted servers that deliver twice the virtualization performance of previous generations while consuming up to 60 percent less power. The new IBM Blade Center HS22 Express is twice as fast as previous blades and offers best-in-class reliability, according to IBM.

New System Management Software

In addition to its new line of x86 servers, IBM also announced system management software upgrades to help IT managers control complex workload demands. Following are several of the new management tools:


IBM Systems Director 6.1

This suite of tools delivers broad cross-platform support for managing both physical and virtual resources. Sporting a Web-based interface with integrated wizards and tutorials, it can manage IBM Power Systems, storage, and non-IBM x86 servers, as well as System z servers. IBM says that using Systems Director 6.1 can result in cost savings of as much as 34.5 percent for Windows servers and 43.8 percent for Linux x86 servers.


Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI)

IBM has developed a new generation of BIOS to provide consistency and allow for more detailed remote configuration options.


Integrated Management Module (IMM)

This module combines diagnostics, virtual presence, and remote control capabilities to manage, monitor, troubleshoot, and repair computers from any remote location. The integrated management module uses standards-based alerting that enables easy integration with enterprise management environments.


IBM ToolsCenter

ToolsCenter is an IBM initiative to simplify the acquisition of single-system management tools. IBM bootable media creator is the latest addition to the ToolsCenter portfolio and is used to create custom bootable media, with updates for client systems.

A Whole New World

The latest release of IBM's x86 servers and software management tools moves x86 reliability into a new plain and, hopefully, will address the costs and complexity that are driving up costs.


Look for IBM to release new business-optimized tower solutions in the second quarter that it says will meet "the challenges of running high-performance IT in the desk-side space where security, serviceability, ease-of-use, and reliability are critical."


Amen, and we'll look forward to those.

Chris Smith

Chris Smith was the Senior News Editor at MC Press Online from 2007 to 2012 and was responsible for the news content on the company's Web site. Chris has been writing about the IBM midrange industry since 1992 when he signed on with Duke Communications as West Coast Editor of News 3X/400. With a bachelor's from the University of California at Berkeley, where he majored in English and minored in Journalism, and a master's in Journalism from the University of Colorado, Boulder, Chris later studied computer programming and AS/400 operations at Long Beach City College. An award-winning writer with two Maggie Awards, four business books, and a collection of poetry to his credit, Chris began his newspaper career as a reporter in northern California, later worked as night city editor for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, and went on to edit a national cable television trade magazine. He was Communications Manager for McDonnell Douglas Corp. in Long Beach, Calif., before it merged with Boeing, and oversaw implementation of the company's first IBM desktop publishing system there. An editor for MC Press Online since 2007, Chris has authored some 300 articles on a broad range of topics surrounding the IBM midrange platform that have appeared in the company's eight industry-leading newsletters. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



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