IBM Unveils New Workload-Optimized Servers, Storage, Networking Gear

IBM on Tuesday expanded its server, storage, and networking portfolio with several new products aimed at optimizing workloads for data centers.

Included in the new roll-out are a new server blade for optimizing data warehousing in mainframe environments, a System X x86-based server blade for databases, a pre-configured workload-optimized storage offering, and top-of-rack Ethernet switches for its blade server architecture.

The new workload-optimized server, storage, and networking products are aimed not only at increasing data center performance, but also at offering customers the ability to choose what they need from whichever vendors they prefer, said David Gelardi, vice president of sales support for IBM's Systems & Technology Group (STG).

"We're continuing down the path of making it easy for customers to integrate IBM into their environments while being able to pick exactly what they need," Gelardi said.

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New to IBM is the DataPower X150z, a high-speed WebSphere management appliance built into a server blade that works in conjunction with IBM's new zBX mainframe.

The DataPower X150z is similar to the IBM WebSphere DataPower Integration Appliance X150, which IBM introduced previously as a workload-optimized appliance to increase WebSphere performance. The DataPower X150z fits in an IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension (xBX), which is an IBM BladeCenter chassis tied to an IBM System z mainframe a via a common management interface.

The DataPower X150z is the latest blade server to be used in conjunction with IBM mainframes. Gelardi said IBM Power7 blade servers and a blade specifically for running IBM Smart Analytics Optimizer are also available, and by year-end a x86-based blade will also become available for the mainframe.

IBM is making a wide variety of blade servers available for its zBX mainframe because of the differing types of workloads customers use, Gelardi said.

"Certain workloads work better on different architecture," he said. "We are providing a single management interface and a high-performance interconnect to allow customers to tailor their servers to their workload requirements."

Also new from IBM is the Workload Optimized Blade for Database, a new version of the company's pre-configured eX5 Blade Systems server blades.

With the Workload Optimized Blade for Database, IBM has created a specialized, pre-tested configuration for running databases or heavy data applications that customers can quickly implement, Gelardi said.

"We've packaged the technology together as an architectural element for clients to quickly implement," he said. "But it's not a pre-packaged product. We're offering recommendations with certain options for them to consider."

IBM also introduced the Storwize Rapid Application Storage solution which combines the IBM Storwize V7000 midrange disk system with IBM's Tivoli Storage Productivity Center and its Tivoli Storage FlashCopy Manager into a single offering to improve storage efficiency and make it easier to set up and manage.

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The Storwize V7000, introduced in October, was IBM's first array to come integrated with its SAN Volume Controller (SVC) technology, giving it the ability to create virtual storage pools that can increase disk utilization and decrease storage costs.

Combining the Storwize V7000 with the Tivoli Storage applications allows the entire package to be implemented in half the time while reducing the time associated with backing up data from SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Exchange, and related applications by up to 90 percent, Gelardi said.

Also new from IBM are two new top-of-rack Ethernet networking switches from Blade Network Technologies, which IBM acquired last Fall.

The switches include virtualization-ready software that lets them know there are virtual machine-capable features available and then automatically configure themselves for that environment, Gelardi said.

The IBM WebSphere DataPower Integration Appliance XI50 for zEnterprise starts at $100,000, and is currently available. The IBM Storwize Rapid Application Storage (RAS) solution and the Workload Optimized Blade for Database are also both currently available, although pricing was not immediately released.