IBM has unveiled its first server fuelled by its long-awaited Power5 chip, with the system also containing software to run four different operating systems simultaneously including Windows, Linux AIX 5L, and the recently revamped OS/400.
The eServer i5, formerly known as the iSeries, comes bundled with the company's Virtualisation Engine, a collection of embedded software technologies and services intended to help corporate users fine tune their infrastructure and wring more value out of their existing IT assets.
The i5 server is aimed at midsized and small companies, and has IBM's Memory on Demand and Reserve Capacity On Demand functions. These capabilities give corporate users the ability to summon additional processing or storage capacity to match their users' changing computing demands.
IBM is also integrating the full version of WebSphere Express into the i5/0S, formerly called OS/400, making it an "inherent part of the operating environment".
"Over the past few years we have been modernising [OS/400] by adding in the Java Virtual Machine as a smattering of WebSphere capabilities. It is a big step but we think integrating the full version [of WebSphere Express] with the operating system will make it easier to use," said Celia Marrese, vice-president of marketing of IBM's eServer i5 family.
The Virtualisation Engine also has capability to shift workloads around to different processors which would otherwise be sitting idle, said Maria DeGiglio, principal business analyst at the Robert Frances Group.
"It now gives users the Enterprise Workload Manager and a number of other features which enable them to move workloads around so they won't have to buy too much additional hardware. Right there you can have a huge cost savings."
IBM officials have also claimed it will be more price-competitive, because the new system has more hardware commonality with the company's pSeries servers.
"With the Power 5, I see us now moving to an industry-standard platform. As we roll out more pSeries and iSeries servers later this year, you will see these systems not only using the same chip but also built on the same hardware including form factor, memory, disks, and high-speed interconnects," Marrese said.
This effort to increase the commonality in hardware between the pSeries and i5, is meant to reassure users of IBM's continued commitment to the i5, as well as increasing the price-performance characteristics of the system.
On 11 June, the company will deliver two models as part of the new line.
The eServer i5 Model 520 contains as many as two processors; the higher-end Model 570 can hold as many as four chips and will have the Capacity On Demand capability. Besides the new operating system and WebSphere Express, both models also have DB2 Universal Data Base.
IBM officials said the i5 systems are the result of a two-year, $500m development effort.
The Model 520 has a starting price of $11,500 and the Model 570 starts at $85,200.
Ed Scannell writes for Infoworld