IBM Puts Power6 In Blade For First Time

processor blade operating system

The Armonk, N.Y.-based computing giant built the new BladeCenter JS22 Express server for AIX around two dual-core Power6 processors with APV. The JS22 Express is now available for $10,363 and includes 4 GB of memory, a 73GB hard disk and BladeCenter H chassis. Linux and i5/OS versions are set to be released Nov. 30 on BladeCenter H and BladeCenter HT chassis.

Virtualization is a big part of the Power6 story, said Scott Handy, VP of Strategy and Power Solutions at IBM.

"We're winning because of virtualization, just as much as performance. Over 67 percent of POWER6 systems ship with optional virtualization," Handy said at a press briefing in San Francisco on Monday.

According to Handy, IBM "calculations" show that a single rack of virtualized Power6-based blades can keep pace with 23 non-virtualized racks of Sun's V490 servers. He said a migration from the Sun array to the new IBM blades would mean "potentially saving more than $200,000 per year on energy costs alone."

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Still, Handy admitted Sun's recent revenue gains were something IBM is paying attention to, if not particularly worried about.

"Am I concerned about Sun's revenue going up again? We'd prefer it wasn't, but I'm not that concerned. They raised their prices, so that means their revenues are up but their units are actually down. They can't afford the SPARC roadmap," he said.

Business Partners say the new hardware and software from IBM will have an impact.

"For smaller customers who have a blade center, [the JS22] is going to give them a chance to really explore using AIX," said Christopher Aveta, senior systems engineer at Denville, N.J.-based Micro Strategies.

Aveta was particularly interested in the new software stack from IBM. With its core feature of virtualized workload and OS image migration from server to server, called Live Partition Mobility and Live Application Mobility, IBM promises to "eliminate blocks of planned downtime and create less work on weekends for IT staff."

"Will this be used for mission critical applications? Absolutely," Aveta said.

One executive at an IBM Business Partner firm said the virtualization promise was a good one, but wondered if the new Power6 blade would be as big a hit with small- to mid-sized businesses as IBM was betting.

"Assuming that it works, Live Partition Mobility and Live Application Mobility would be of high value to our customers. So much of the workloads today are 25-by-7-by-365. You plan for application downtime over say two hours, but it always goes beyond that. With this you don't have to bring the application down, so I think that's a high value item," said the source, who asked not to be named.

"On the JS22, what I think of as a small business might not have a need for six blades. On the H chassis, which can hold up to 14 blades, if you don't have a need for at least eight, you're going to go with an individual server. That said, there is probably still a sweet spot for this blade, I'm just not sure you can define it as a 'small business'."

Meanwhile, a good portion of Monday's briefing was devoted to a side-by-side price comparison of IBM's BladeCenter S with the c3000 Shorty from HP, which along with Sun is IBM's major competition in the tightly contested, three-player Unix server market.

According to IBM, the total configuration price of the BladeCenter S is $51,610, while the c3000 would cost $106,502 at current list prices on HP's Web site. Of course, with the Shorty, a buyer would get what IBM describes as "extra storage, tape backup, KVM, networking, and PDUs and cables on a bread-rack." It seems likely HP wouldn't describe those items as superfluous.