In what could be dubbed the biggest technology step since the launch of the IBM Corp. iSeries about 16 years ago, the company has introduced the IBM eServer i5, arguably the first system to be powered by the computer giant's Power5 microprocessors.
Apparently, the new iSeries has the ability to simultaneously run four operating systems -- AIX, Windows, OS400 and Linux.
Says Guy England, iSeries business director, IBM systems group U.K.: "This product is extremely appropriate for today's business environment, because everyone wants to consolidate their heterogeneous systems. In addition the boxes can be customized to companies across the board."
Initially the company is targeting traditional and existing IBM clients, and has already acquired several potential buyers locally after a presentation last week.
"In as far as business benefits are concerned, companies should realize a lot in terms of levels of integration and elimination of disparate systems. The box also allows for integrated management of the systems," says England.
Mervyn Naicker, IBM SA iSeries product manager, claims that the iSeries is the only truly integrated server. "These systems provide small- and medium-sized businesses with unprecedented power, flexibility and cost benefits," he says. "They are ideal for the local market, with its demand for outstanding performance and return on investment."
The eServer i5 systems run i5/OS, the next generation of OS/400, and are fuelled by Power5 microprocessors, the most powerful 64-bit chips ever built, IBM says. They can integrate and run multiple operating systems simultaneously, including i5/OS, Windows, Linux and AIX 5L.
According to Naicker, businesses using the eServer i5 can average up to 40 percent improvement in system price/performance over previous iSeries systems. "The eServer i5 system represents a clear commitment to helping our customers prosper in the new on-demand world," he says.
The new eServer i5 systems are part of a US$500 million program that is delivering unprecedented computing capability for small and medium-sized businesses. Features include full integration of all the base software that a business needs and the Power5's ability to transform a single processor into two processors, essentially allowing the chip to run two applications at the same time and reducing the time that it requires to complete a task.
In addition, the i5/OS is integrated with IBM WebSphere Application Server -- Express, a scalable transaction engine for dynamic e-business applications.
The IBM Virtualization Engine, which extends the eServer i5 server's ability to run multiple operating systems simultaneously, is a set of technologies and services that help customers simplify and optimize their ICT infrastructure and vastly improve the economics and operations of under-used ICT assets.
"This means that businesses can integrate Unix solutions onto the eServer i5 alongside their i5/OS applications. In addition, companies can further simplify their ICT environment with the new support for running Linux on Intel processor-based IBM eServer xSeries (attached to iSeries) systems, and are able to reduce infrastructure server costs by managing all their Linux and Windows servers together with integrated storage, security and backup," Naicker points out.
The eServer i5 570 system is said to be equipped with reserve capacity on demand, on/off capacity on demand and memory capacity on demand. The new reserve capacity on demand aims to enable customers to purchase a reserve tank of processing power that is automatically enabled by the system if their server needs more capacity. With capacity on demand, customers pay only for what they use, with the ability to turn Power5 processors or memory on and off as business needs change.
Meanwhile, the company says that it should see the Power5 technology being integrated into IBM's other devices. The initial boxes should be shipped into South Africa by this Friday.