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Marching right along with its dedicated server initiatives, Big Blue
last week announced plans to release Linux-dedicated iSeries and
zSeries servers in March. Both offerings are meant to encourage
Linux shops to consolidate on IBM hardware, Big Blue says. But while
the mainframe alternative can feasibly consolidate upward of one
hundred Sun and Intel servers, the iSeries can consolidate a max of
15. Some think that's not enough to get non-iSeries shops to make
the move to a new platform.

"Our goal is to deliver an extremely competitive, aggressively
priced Linux server-consolidation offering for small to midsized
customers," says IBM spokesman Tim Dallman. The iSeries Linux
dedicated server will be a batch-only model 820 that won't provide
any interactive processing features, meaning that traditional AS/400
apps won't run on it.

"IBM's not trying to target an iSeries customer who wants to run
iSeries standard applications plus Linux," says Lennie Broich, IBM
senior product manager for iSeries product marketing. Those
customers would be better off buying a 270 model, he says, on which
they could run interactive applications as well as a couple of Linux

With the current offering, Big Blue hopes to catch the attention of
customers running multiple Linux servers. "This offering helps non-
iSeries users in terms of both management and cost," Broich says.
The Linux-dedicated iSeries server will be available in uniprocessor
(820-0150), 2-way (820-0151), and 4-way (820-0152) versions, the
largest of which will be able to consolidate up to 15 standalone
Linux servers.

Though it won't come with the Linux software preloaded, the iSeries'
Linux offering will include an installation wizard for rapid
deployment of Linux distributions from SuSE and TurboLinux, which
must be purchased separately. Red Hat Linux will be likely be
available for the box later this year when it's iSeries distribution
is released. Customers will get a 15 percent to 20 percent price
break as compared to the price of a standard model 820 box.
Specifics on pricing will be available later this year.

The Linux-dedicated zSeries box will run Linux only, but, as with
the iSeries version, the software won't come preloaded. Red Hat,
TurboLinux, and SuSE will be available for the zSeries dedicated-
Linux server, one model of which will be available with an
expandable configuration from a uniprocessor to a 4-way, Dallman

If IBM is planning to make server consolidation its sole branding
tactic for this latest dedicated iSeries server, the price break had
better be pretty significant, says Bill Claybrook, Aberdeen Group's
research director for Linux and open-source software. While
Claybrook says the sheer number of potential Linux instances able to
run on the zSeries' dedicated Linux offering stands to make it a
viable choice for server consolidation, he's less convinced that the
iSeries offering will have similar appeal. "It's questionable
whether people will actually go out and buy an iSeries to
consolidate their workloads for only 15 partitions," he says. "The
success depends on how much of a price break customers are getting."

A definite selling point, however, is the ease with which customers
can generate additional copies of Linux as the business expands.
"Partitions allow a new Linux server to be up and running in a
matter of minutes," Claybrook says, as opposed to running out and
purchasing yet another Sun or Intel server to add to the company's
server farm. But because of the iSeries dedicated-Linux server's
limited number of partitions, businesses must consider how much they
expect to expand in deciding whether it's a worthy alternative,
Claybrook says. "Unless it's very, very inexpensive, there will be
less interest in the iSeries."
-- Jill R. Aitoro, Industry Reporter, iSeries Network


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