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IBM woos Linux contingent with eServer p630

IBM is to offer configurations of its eServer p630 dedicated to Linux. The company's pSeries servers traditionally run AIX, IBM's Unix operating system.

The p630 running on Linux was introduced to provide users with a lower cost for acquiring 64-bit capable Linux machines, said IBM manager of strategic initiatives Chris Pratt. Until now, Linux on the pSeries servers was only available in an AIX/Linux partition.

"It's not a stripped-down version of the pSeries. It has all of the reliability and availability that any pSeries product has, so it's the ability to basically give customers a lower entry cost in running 64-bit Linux."

Pratt was unconcerned that this new offering may take away AIX customers. "The reality is, proprietary operating systems such as AIX offer much more in terms of functionality than Linux."

Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff saw the move as a "kind of an IBM slap" at Intel's Itanium architecture.

"Itanium has been getting some traction in high-performance computing running Linux," Haff said. "Arguably, it's one of the few spots that Itanium has gotten any traction."

Haff believed initial interest in the p630 was likely to come from enterprises running IBM environments.

"I think, primarily though, in an enterprise, if they're buying the Power4 hardware, they've probably been using AIX already, and would probably just go ahead and use AIX."

Like Haff, IBM's Pratt believed the offering would attract customers using pSeries AIX machines looking to run certain functions on the Linux operating system and who want to maintain a standard hardware platform.

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