IBM will offer latest virtualisation software and partitioning technology with its servers, which will allow them to run as many as 10 versions of an operating system on a single processor.
IBM will add operating system enhancements - job scheduling and workload management capabilities, for example - along with software from its WebSphere, Tivoli and DB2 products, to create a series of technologies and services called Virtualisation Engine.
This kind of technology has been available to IBM's mainframe users for years, but Virtualisation Engine is the result of a three-year programme to bring these capabilities to other IBM systems including storage devices, according to Tom Hawk, the general manager of IBM's enterprise storage group.
It will increase the utilisation levels of systems and make them easier to manage, he said.
Virtualisation Engine will be worked into IBM systems, starting with the iSeries line, which is expected to be refreshed within the next two months.
IBM will use technology it has developed internally to enable the partitioning of the Power5 processors, which are used in its iSeries and pSeries servers. The company will also use an unnamed third party to deliver partitioning services to its Intel-based xSeries systems, it said.
The Virtualisation Engine components that will be new to iSeries will include an embedded version of Tivoli's Provisioning Manager software, as well as a WebSphere-based grid computing toolkit that will allow customers to run distributed applications using the OGSA (Open Grid Services Architecture) standards.
The partitioning component of Virtualisation Engine is similar to VMware's GSX Server and ESX Server software and Hewlett-Packard's Virtual Partitions (vPars), said Jonathan Eunice, an analyst with industry research firm Illuminata.
"VMware does not allow individual applications to use more than two CPUs worth of performance. Power partitions scale far higher than VMware can do," he said.
IBM, like its other system suppliers competitors HP and Sun Microsystems, has done "pretty good" work with its virtualisation technology so far.
"The battle, however, is not just to do pretty good, but to do exceptional virtualisation, to make it systematic, and to push its use throughout all the datacentre and IT processes," he added.
Robert McMillian writes for IDG News Service