IBM takes on Dell in Intel server market

IBM has introduced new technologies for its eServer xSeries line of Intel-based servers that the company claimed would increase...

IBM has introduced new technologies for its eServer xSeries line of Intel-based servers that the company claimed would increase uptime and lower operating costs for enterprises by 80% over servers from Dell.

IBM said its results were based on an IBM server availability measurement tool using methodology and research data from analyst group Gartner.

IBM said the measurement tool shows that over a five-year period, IBM's "self-healing" technology could save a medium-sized business running generic applications on an IBM eServer x220 up to $53,110 (£37,250) in operating costs compared with a similarly configured Dell 1400SC server. IBM said the savings for large enterprises could be as much as $553,280 (£388,100) in operating costs over the same period.

IBM is third behind Compaq and Dell in the worldwide Intel server market. In the US Intel server market, Dell leads, followed by Compaq, with IBM in the third spot.

The technology was developed as part of IBM's Project eLiza initiative to create intelligent systems capable of managing, protecting and healing themselves automatically.

The program forms part of IBM's Director 3.1 system management software for the IBM eServer xSeries. IBM said the software is designed to automatically predict when server problems might occur, call another computer for support and order parts. IBM is then able to contact the customer with a solution, such as sending a customer service representative on-site or delivering a new part before the old part has stopped working.

The software is also able to predict server bottlenecks such as excessive processor or memory consumption that can lead to poor performance or even unplanned downtime, IBM said. This self-optimising technology alerts the customer in advance of the bottleneck, makes recommendations on how to avoid it and provides a response when the alert is received. Because the server monitors itself, the customer is freed up to concentrate on his core business.

Fewer people are needed to run the system, because everything is automatic.

"The cost of running a server is more than just the initial hardware acquisition cost, there's the human costs for running and managing a server as well as the cost of server downtime," said Deepak Advani, vice-president of IBM eServer xSeries, in the statement. "IBM's systems management solution, IBM Director, is designed to offer customers improved server availability with more automated capabilities, requiring less staff to run the systems."

A Dell spokesman would not comment about IBM's cost-saving claims but he said Dell had grown faster than any other company in the Intel server market. He also highlighted that market research firm Technology Business Research rated Dell number one in customer satisfaction for 16 out of the past 17 quarters.

Mark Melenovsky, an analyst at IDC, said IBM's self management tools are a key value-added service in the server market.

"This is definitely a few steps in the right direction for IBM," Melenovsky said. "While Dell has its own management system, it is looking for partners to help develop this technology. But IBM has everything in-house and definitely has the in-house advantage."

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