IBM has combined System i and System p servers into a single, unified line of servers, the company said Wednesday at the COMMON User Group Conference. The i5/OS operating system will be known as "i" in the future.
IBM said it unified the two servers as a way to increase application choice, reduce energy and administration costs and simplify pricing.
"We're extremely excited about this," said Mike Martin, brand director of sales at Logicalis, a Green Bay, Wis. "based solution provider. "It allows us to streamline our approach to clients and work on applications based on various operating systems out there. It gives customers lot of flexibility since they don't have to be limited to one package and this can drive down costs and increase availability."
System i customers and solution providers can upgrade from POWER5 and POWER5+ servers and move mission-critical applications to the new systems using the same i applications and operating system.
Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM also said that the new platform provides ISVs with opportunities to reach a wider audience especially if they have a portfolio of solutions that run on multiple operating systems.
"This is a compelling value proposition for large ISVs that are selling applications along with a UNIX portfolio," said IBM's Mark Shearer, vice president, Marketing and Offerings, Business Systems. "ISVs in an IBM environment no longer have to write code for both servers so this makes it easier to integrate applications."
Additionally, clients can also access POWER6 EnergyScale Technology for advanced energy control features, and PowerVM virtualization technology that allows clients to create up to 160 virtual partitions in a single system.
The first products to debut from this new line are designed for small and medium businesses, the IBM Power 520 Express, Power 550 Express and the i Edition Express for BladeCenter JS12 Express.
The i Edition Express for BladeCenter JS12 S is an upgrade for existing AS/400, iSeries and System i 515, 520 and 525 customers, and is intended to allow customers to simplify the integration of their applications with existing x86 servers, according to IBM. Prices start at roughly half the price of non-blade configurations with the same processing capacity. A three-year maintenance plan is included, and IBM said that the lease price will often be less than what many i customers now pay. The company said that customers can gain even more value by moving existing x86 servers onto x86 blades in the same BladeCenter chassis.
The IBM Power 520 Express is what IBM said is an "affordable" server for businesses running distributed applications and databases and comes in AIX, Linux and i Editions. The platform's features allow more work to be processed with less operation disruption, the company said.
The IBM Power 550 Express is a mid-sized database server with continuous application availability, and also comes in AIX, Linux and i Editions.
Randy Dufault, current president of COMMON Users Group, said the organization of 20,000 members has been working with IBM for a number of years to put out a product that offers flexibility and updated hardware along with the i system.
"We are excited that IBM would unveil its new Power Systems product line at our meeting," Dufault said. "We have always seen ourselves as collaborators with IBM and we believe COMMON offers the insight into the user experience that helped IBM to fine tune the System i and System p platforms."