IBM targets Unix dominance

Having made the boast in September 1999 that it wanted to be Unix business market leader in a couple of years, IBM claims to be...

Having made the boast in September 1999 that it wanted to be Unix business market leader in a couple of years, IBM claims to be making headway towards vindicating the statement.

Leo Steiner, vp webserver group, EMEA, pre Frankfurt's SP World in May maintained that 'S80 technology would be rolled out to the rest of the company's enterprise servers'. Since last September, IBM has signed agreements with such web-related leaders as Ariba, Vignette, i2, Siebel, Hyperion and Checkpoint.

'There are now some four players in the Unix market,' says Steiner. 'We're heading for top slot. During the period of the end of the fourth quarter and most of the first quarter this year, customers were tied to business problems. Now, in the second quarter, demand is coming back across the board from all customers.' A tsunami of statistics was then rolled out from IBM, most of which is reported here.

Michel Teyssedre, worldwide director of server field marketing, says, 'Over the next four years the biggest market will be Unix, with characteristics of mainframe reliability, investment protection, scaleability, applications and performance stemming from our S80 mid range boxes. Sun may be making some boasts and there was talk of an eclipse in the media. But an eclipse only lasts for a few seconds. What we'd like to see now is the sunset.'

Sun's product marketing manager for enterprise servers Ian Meakin smiles. 'Our sales continue to expand strongly - indeed this has been the case for the last 11 consecutive quarters. We're growing faster than anyone else - which includes Hewlett-Packard, Compaq and IBM - and our sales accelerated up to and after Y2K. Demand for our kit has never slackened, as analyst reports demonstrate.'

Teyssedre spouts facts and figures: IBM has spent $36bn on r&d in the six years to 1999; the company filed 2,658 patents in 1999 (40 per cent above the previous record - hang on, 2,658 averages at over seven per day, assuming every day worked - is that why the research labs are so big?)

'We're number one in Unix technology leadership, OS leadership (that's Aix, Monterey and Linux, which is being deployed 'everywhere') and system architecture where 256 processors are configured in a single environment,' says Teyssedre. 'What's more, we have one million RS/6000s installed, with some 80 per cent of SP2 installations being in business or commercial environments.'

Analyst DH Brown has ostensibly rated IBM's Aix as the best Unix on the market for five years in a row - yet according to Teyssedre no-one knows it.

Ian Roscow, manager of webserver sales product management, EMEA, is equally full of enthusiasm for the copper-fuelled microprocessor technology in the S80, which has been rolled out to the three new mid range models, the M80, H80 and F80. Platitudes are also reserved for Numa-Q and the new 43P-150 workstation.

'There's 99.999 per cent availability which equates to less than six minutes annual unplanned downtime,' says Roscow. 'We offer HACMP, high availability clustered multi processing, technology.'

Miles Barel, program director, Unix marketing, says: 'Three words that go together: Unix, Linux, and IBM. The evolution of e-business is presenting customers with a new set of challenges: how to integrate multiple applications and data, and meeting the needs of dynamic and unpredictable environments.'

Barel produces the Unix view schematic where the industry-wide, standards based application environments of appliance servers overlap with web application servers, which then overlap with data transaction servers. At the appliance server - simple - end it's the territory of Linux and Windows 2000. There's a slight overlap in the middle of web application servers with Aix/Monterey, which covers all the way up to data transaction servers, or the complex bit.

Picking up on Teyssedre's comments, Barel points to DH Brown's Unix work which rated Aix 4.3.3 as number one - for systems management, clustering, and internet technologies - above Tru64, HP-UX, Sun's Solaris 7 and Irix 6.5. Note, all the testing was done on products readily available on the market at the time of the tests.

'The point to make is: one size doesn't fit all,' says Barel. 'The business does not have to fit the technology. Technology must adapt to fit the business.

'Aix workload manager uses technology and expertise from S/390, ploughed into the Aix kernel,' says Barel. 'Later this year, Numa-Q's version of Unix - ptx - will have its capabilities ported to Aix on RS/6000. Note, Aix is Monterey on RS/6000. Monterey is Aix on steroids.'

Barel moves to the Linux affinity strategy, the Linux application execution environment. There are Linux binary interfaces for Aix/Monterey. Implementing Linux APIs on top of Aix means programming compatibility, which provides an expanded application portfolio. Monterey with Aix 'combines the best of Aix technology, flexibility to meet customer needs, strong affinity with Linux, and a volume enterprise-class industry leader in the Unix segment.

'Monterey 64 on IA-64 will be delivered in the fourth quarter, as will ptx including Monterey technology,' says Barel. 'We're developing IBM Linux based offerings and expanding the IBM Linux technical centre of competence. It's about allowing applications to be deployed in all relevant places to drive applications growth.'

The benefits of IBM's Unix strategy? Barel points to applications portability across systems and software environments. The use of existing servers, applications, data, skills and business processes.

'To win in e-business, it's Aix, Linux, and IBM,' says Barel.

Phil Dawson, senior research analyst, Meta Group, says: 'One's own house must be in order prior to externalisation. There are critical IT issues that need to be addressed. Improving business continuity through availability, scaleability, and workload management. Making better use of storage area networks, enabling platform and storage integration. Managing near term storage infrastructure costs.'

'Note that storage constitutes 75 per cent of enterprise system costs, and that it costs 14 times more to manage systems a few years out,' says Dawson. 'Customers need a robust infrastructure with agile server deployment.' He further hammers home the point that availability issues will continue to impact e-business deployments through to 2002. Uptime is crucial.

Steve Sole, TBC Group sales director, says: 'We've been a reseller of RS/6000 for as long as the product has been around, have grown to be number one UK reseller, and we're business partner of the year 1999 - plus we've gained IBM centre of excellence award for RS/6000 four years running, as well as AS/400 and Netfinity. With the leading Aix skills outside IBM, we're partners to many FTSE 100 companies. The F/H/M80 servers are more competitive than any other product line in this mid range space, giving us the opportunity to increase market share - which has already been recognised by our key ISV partners.'

At end-May TBC was acquired by South Africa's largest RS/6000 reseller Faritec, which makes the group a significant RS/6000 customer to the tune of some £25m.

Jim Rathbone, recently-appointed ceo at Premier business partner and 1999 SP reseller-of-the-year winner AnIX, was very encouraged with the IBM server strategy unveiled at SP World. 'The S80 has given IBM leading position against Sun, outselling its equivalent product by over four times. There are broader offerings in the high-end Unix systems arena with the Sequent acquisition. IBM now has the strongest product range it's ever had in the Unix market, with clear plans to make the range stronger with Project Monterey.'

But Sun's Meakin reckons, 'IBM still uses different technology to deliver different service levels. Since IBM 'refreshed' its technology it's not done a good job. We finish jobs off that IBM should have done. We're 100 per cent Unix and offer scalable Unix boxes.' l

What's on offer

TBC implemented a robust financial system for a major telco based on two RS/6000s - one production; one remote for disaster recovery/development - which offered more functions than those offered by HP or Sequent, including HACMP software. The business includes visual conferences, CCTV, and a video assessment system, targeted at the insurance sector.

Graphics arts solutions provider CreoScitex is using an F80. The company produces image capture systems; inkjet proofers; thermal imaging devices for films, plates and proofs; professional colour and copydot scanning systems; and workflow management software. Internet service provider Prodigy Communications uses five H70s for inbound mail servers, S80 for user authentication, H70s for web serving, and B50s as domain name servers. A S/390 and DB2 handles back-end reporting and billing. Prodigy will now use up to three M80s as inbound mail servers to accommodate explosive growth in online users (three million expected). Web registrar Network Solutions has S80 to power the master computer for all web addresses everywhere, and is to deploy M80s through its registry business. The company provides domain name registration services for all available country-code top-level domains, eg .uk, .de (Germany) and .fr (France).

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