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IBM Expands Linux App Virtual Environment for SMBs

IBM Expands Linux App Virtual Environment for SMBs

The Lx86 solutions are "only for people who have experience with System p," said Scott Handy, vice president of marketing and strategy at IBM Power Systems. For that group, they make server consolidation easy. Users can put up to 10 virtual servers per core, or CPU.

By Richard Adhikari
01/30/08 12:55 PM PT

It's long been acknowledged that small and medium-sized businesses provide the engine of growth for the economy, and IBM has been targeting this area for some time now.

Big Blue's latest whack at the SMB market is in the virtualization arena.

Cutting Costs With Virtualization

Among other things, virtualization lets a single physical resource -- such as a server, operating system, application or storage device -- appear to function as multiple logical resources; or it can let users make multiple physical resources appear as a single logical resource.

This cuts costs and improves efficiency considerably: VMWare, which is a major player in the virtualization market, claims that its virtual infrastructure customers have seen cost savings of more than US$3,000 annually for every workload virtualized; virtualized PCs have 60-80 percent utilization as compared to 5-15 percent in non-virtualized PCs.

IBM's Solution

IBM is including PowerVM Lx86 with all copies of its PowerVM virtualization offerings for its System p servers.

Lx86, developed by Los Gatos, Calif.-based Transitive, lets users create an x86 Linux application virtual environment for IBM System p servers running the Linux on Power operating system.

This lets users run almost all x86 Linux binaries unmodified and without recompilation upon migration to the System p platform, Transitive says. Formerly known as the "RS/6000," the System p platform runs AIX, which is IBM's version of Unix.

Only binaries where the Unix kernel has been modified or where the original application took advantage of "some sort of proprietary hardware that does not exist on the new machine" would not run without recompilation under Lx86, Ian Robinson, vice president of marketing at Transitive, told LinuxInsider.

Not for the Masses

IBM had 200 customers in its PowerVM beta program, and "they told us it's ready for production," said Scott Handy, vice president of marketing and strategy at Austin, Texas-based IBM Power Systems.

That said, the Lx86 solutions are "only for people who have experience with System p," Handy told LinuxInsider.

For that group, they make server consolidation easy. Users can put up to 10 virtual servers per core, or CPU.

The System p 520 entry-level server, which was announced January 29, has up to four cores, and users can "turn on one, two or four cores," Handy said. So, it can handle up to 40 virtual servers.

New PowerVM and Pricing

In addition to integrating Lx86 with PowerVM, IBM has added a new version of its PowerVM software -- the Express Edition -- to its Standard and Enterprise Editions.

Priced at $40 per core for the System p 520 entry-level server, PowerVM Express Edition is aimed at virtualization newbies.

It lets users create up to three partitions on the server, leverage virtualized disk and optical devices with the built-in Virtual I/O Server, and utilize shared dedicated capacity to help optimize use of processor cycles.

Per-core pricing on the System p 520 for the Standard Edition is $700 and for the Enterprise Edition is $1419, according to IBM.

Technical Details

All three versions of PowerVM run on the AIX, Linux and i5/OS operating systems. The i5/OS operating system is for SMBs using System i servers, formerly known as the "AS/400" line.

PowerVM, previously called "Advanced Power Virtualization," subdivides physical servers into logical partition units, each of which has its own virtualized operating system and applications.

PowerVM Express Edition and the PowerVM Lx86 feature will be available February 28.


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