IBM Unveils AS/400 Server Consolidation Strategy

With the release of V4R4, IBM also announces a series of AS/400 server consolidation solutions to help unify midrange IT environments.

IBM has recognized a trend in the industry toward server consolidation, according to Ian Jarman, AS/400 Server Consolidation marketing manager. "About 18 months ago, IBM got together across its different brands to discuss how to go about preparing server consolidation solutions that make sense for the individual server line. In the AS/400's case, the three solutions IBM has chosen to focus on are: AS/400 consolidation through logical partitioning; Lotus Domino, consolidating multiple Domino servers; and Windows NT [consolidation through the Integrated Netfinity Server]. By focusing on those, we're defining where we can provide good and credible solutions to customers."

In support of its strategy, IBM cites an International Data Corp. (Framingham, Mass.) white paper published in September of last year. The study indicates 49 percent of respondents planned to consolidate servers and storage.Logical partitioning provides the capability to divide a single SMP machine into multiple, independent operating system images, according to Jarman. "In the case of the AS/400, for example, you can take a 12-way and divide it into 12 images of OS/400, each running its own separate OS/400 image and potentially running different applications, maybe a different language or time zone," he says.

"We have scaled the AS/400 from what was, in the past, a midrange server to now being an enterprise-class server in terms of performance," Jarman says. "Now IBM is providing the AS/400 with enterprise-class tools like logical partitioning. This continues IBM's goal of promoting the AS/400 as an enterprise-class server."Logical partitioning is part of the operating system in V4R4. When partitioning is used, a single license of OS/400 can be installed at multiple locations throughout the server, regardless of the number of partitions a user has. "If you think of a 12-way partitioned, as opposed to three four-ways, for example, that essentially would be a software subscription savings," Jarman says.

"Most of our Domino activity points to Domino as the leading groupware server in the industry," Jarman says. With its latest announcements, IBM is pointing out the specific consolidation benefits of putting Domino on the AS/400. "This comes back to the ability to run multiple workloads on the system, divided into subsystems. On the AS/400 we can run multiple images of Domino, and each of those images runs in a subsystem. This allows us to run up to 99 Domino servers inside a single AS/400."

The Integrated Netfinity Server for AS/400 -- formerly known as the Integrated PC Server, or IPCS -- now provides AS/400 users with an embedded 333 MHz Pentium II processor with up to one gigabyte of memory.

If you have an Intel server farm with each server dedicated to a single application only, that leads to "spiraling systems management costs," according to Jarman. "There are no tools within NT that enable it to divide server workloads on a single machine. This is enabled by subsystems: an interactive subsystem, a batch subsystem, and you can give them different priorities and memory."

--L. Greenemeier

See the Feb. 9 MIDRANGE Systems for complete coverage of the V4R4 announcement.