IBM's iSeries Gets A Timely Makeover

IBM hopes the enhanced iSeries 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, iSeries product manager at IBM.

Jarman noted that a year ago, IBM launched an Initiative for Innovation program to attract more ISVs to the iSeries platform.

“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.” About 85 percent of all iSeries products are sold by IBM business partners, he said.

As part of the System i5 refresh, IBM is adding an accelerator for its low-end i5 520 value and express models that will allow current 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, the standard 520 is being refreshed with a new 1.9GHz processor. In addition, the i5 570 is being enhanced with a new 2.2GHz processor.

IBM also is introducing a new i5/OS V5R4 that will give the i5 lineup enhanced security and compliance options.

By midyear, the Armonk, N.Y.-based vendor said it is adding new integration between system i5, BladeCenter and xSeries servers with iSCSI technology, so that Windows and iSeries servers can share storage and management capabilities. “We just didn&'t have enough server consolidation capabilities without BladeCenter,” 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 server consolidation easier. “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,&' ” he said.