IBM Refreshes iSeries

In a refresh of its System i5 line, IBM hopes the enhanced systems will help it attract new customers to the platform and encourage existing users to expand into new i5 applications rather than opting for an NT-based solution, said Ian Jarman, IBM&'s iSeries product manager.

Jarman noted that a year ago IBM launched an Initiative for Innovation program to attract more ISVs to the iSeries platform. As a result of that initiative, IBM signed up 266 new ISVs that created 596 new applications and 497 new iSeries solutions.

“In 2005, 70 percent to 80 percent of the systems sold to SMB clients didn&'t have the performance to run our latest Java and Websphere enabled applications,” Jarman said. “We have to make sure customers have the performance to run those applications.”

As part of the System i5 refresh, which includes faster processors and a new operating system, IBM is adding an accelerator for its low-end i5 520 value and express models that will allow the traditional installed base of iSeries customers to run Web-enabled and groupware solutions on the same system as their core business applications.

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For ISVs and partners focused on new customers that don&'t need to run traditional iSeries applications, the standard edition 520 is being refreshed with a new 1.9-gigahertz processor along with capacity on demand.

Customers can buy one processor and switch on another processor at a later date for $1,800, Jarman said. Additionally, the i5 570 is being enhanced with a new 2.2-gigahertz processor. IBM is also introducing a new i5/OS V5R4 that will give the i5 lineup enhanced security and compliance options.

IBM too by midyear said it is adding new integration between system i5, BladeCenter and xSeries servers with iSCSI technology such that Windows servers can share storage and management capabilities with iSeries servers. “We just didn&'t have enough server consolidation capabilities without BladeCenter in the past,” Jarman said.

Mitch Kleinman, executive vice president of CCS Technology Solutions, an IBM business partner in Irvine, Calif., said the enhancements to the i5 will make it easier to help customers with server consolidation.

“Customers can say let's use these new functions to bring applications and management functions over to the [i5] so we don&'t have such server sprawl,” Kleinman said. “For them to go after customers that are looking at 4-way and 8-way Intel servers, they are going to have to make this product more price competitive and I think they are doing that with the way they are coming out with the Power5 chip.”