IBM Expands Flex Systems Converged Infrastructure Solutions

IBM on Tuesday expanded its IBM Flex Systems converged infrastructure solutions with the addition of three new POWER7 processor-based models, a new x86-based model, and new management- and software-defined networking software.

The IBM Flex Systems, part of IBM's PureSystems converged infrastructure family, combine IBM servers, storage and networking in solutions based on IBM's BladeCenter chassis, said Alex Yost, vice president of IBM PureFlex.

"The new members of the IBM Flex Systems family include not only the hardware stuff, which is easy to differentiate, but also new management capabilities," Yost said.

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IBM Flex Systems is a very important product line to the customer base of Mainline Information Systems, said Perry Carfagna, director of IBM PureSystems for the Tallahassee, Fla.-based solution provider and IBM partner.

"A lot of customers are moving to leverage integrated infrastructures, and like the POWER-base systems with Linux," Carfagna said. "A lot of our POWER customers are looking to move from older AIX solutions to lower-cost solutions featuring AIX or Linux."

IBM Flex Systems running the AIX operating system offers customers improved virtualization capabilities and resiliency over VMware, Windows or Linux, Carfagna said.

New in the IBM Flex Systems lineup is the Flex System p260, an entry-level POWER7+ system featuring two sockets for processors with relatively few cores. Yost said the p260 is an entry-level upgrade for System i (AIX) customers who need few processor cores.

IBM also introduced the Flex System p270, which is similar to the p260 but with more processor cores, Yost said.

Also new is the Flex System p460, which features four sockets for POWER7+ processors, he said.

On the x86 side, IBM introduced the Flex System x222, which allows up to 28 dual-processor x86-based servers to be deployed in a single chassis. Yost said this configuration provides support for up to 2,800 Windows 7 user images in a single chassis.

The Flex System x222 is a great platform for high-end server workloads, Carfagna said.

"We're seeing customers looking at it for high-performance computing, where they need high performance in a small footprint, and for virtual desktop solutions," he said.

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IBM also enhanced its Flex System Manager management software with the ability to manage customer Flex System environments via iOS, Android or Blackberry mobile devices, and the ability to manage up to 5,000 customer endpoints, Yost said.

IBM also introduced new software defined network (SDN) capabilities that allow high-performance networking and port aggregation without the need to manage the solution via an external solution, he said.

The server business has been a tough one for IBM recently.

IBM in July reported second-quarter 2013 sales of its Power Systems sales fell 25 percent year-over-year, while sales of its System x servers fell 11 percent.

However, sales of its PureSystems converged infrastructure solutions have done well since their introduction a year ago, with customers purchasing more than 6,000 units so far, IBM said during the July financial conference call.