IBM Unveils Linux Server Consolidation Systems

IBM unveiled three new offerings this week designed to consolidate Web-tier Linux servers in increasingly complicated IT environments.

The new offerings, a trio of machines running Linux or IBM’s AIX Unix operating system, will help businesses consolidate more than 1.6 million Linux servers that are present in both heterogeneous and open source IT environments, according to the company.

The products are available for small, mid-size and enterprise markets, Scott Handy, vice president of worldwide Linux strategy for IBM, said at a press conference this week at the Linuxworld OpenSolutions Summit in New York.

Cutting Down Sprawl

The move by IBM ups the stakes in its Linux server battle with rivals Hewlett-Packard and Dell. Customers have begun experiencing increasing levels of server sprawl, Big Blue has said, leading to requests to consolidate servers while increasing virtualization.

There is a very low average of utilization for Web-tier applications, noted Dan Olds, a principal analyst for Gabriel Consulting, and the move by IBM should help customers migrate applications to their new hardware.

“There is a gold rush to be the vendor that can carve out the biggest piece of x86 market,” Olds told LinuxInsider.

Virtualization Advantage

Among the three new offerings, the heavyweight is the IBM System p5 560Q, which includes IBM’s Advanced Power Virtualization and runs multiple partitions per processor.

Virtualization has become a hot button topic in Linux circles, and the IBM System p5 560Q is able to handle up to 160 virtual server images per system at one time, IBM said.

The benefit of running multiple partitions is that it enables customers to consolidate 320 x86-based Linux Web servers onto just one rack of five of the new servers, according to the company.

Small and Mid-Size Business

For the combined small and mid-size business market, which consists of companies that often have overlapping needs and may require the ability to upgrade with growth, IBM is offering Linux server consolidation capabilities on its blade servers.

This offering from Big Blue, which potentially may be its biggest seller, is a mid-tiered server based on IBM’s Power5 processor, which competes with AMD’s Opteron chips, according to the company.

Bigger Business

For the larger medium-sized business market, the company also has a new offering. The BladeCenter JS21 for Web Serving Farms is a BladeCenter chassis with 14 JS21 blades, and also includes IBM’s Advanced Power Virtualization.

Customers can consolidate 168 Linux x86 servers onto just one BladeCenter Chassis with 14 blades.

Open Source Software Stack

IBM has also expanded a deal with Novell to offer an open source software stack that includes Suse Linux for its Power and BladeCenter servers, according to the company.

The Integrated Stack for Suse Linux Enterprise combines Novell’s Linux operating system with a license-free version of IBM WebSphere Application Server Community Edition with Web-tier clustering support and IBM DB2 Express-C, a community version of IBM’s database server.

The IBM System p5 560Q will be available starting on Feb. 23 at a starting price of US$43,800. The Web Serving Farm solution with a BladeCenter H chassis and 14 blades has a starting list price of $38,835. The System p5 505 Express has a starting price of $3,717 and the quad-core System p5 505Q Express has a starting price of $5,505.

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