IBM to Add Pizzazz to ISP Initiatives

Following up on its plans announced in April to invest in the Internet Service Provider (ISP) market, IBM has announced the development of a new member of the RS/6000 line of enterprise servers. Code-named Pizzazz, the new server is a rack-mountable device that will run on either the IBM AIX or Linux operating systems.

Pizzazz developed out of IBM's desire to help the service provider market become more profitable, says Al Rosen, program director for IBM ISP business development. The primary way IBM can support the ISP market at this time is to enable solution providers to support and deploy business-critical e-business applications on behalf of the solution providers' customers.

What makes the Pizzazz well suited to the service provider market is its efficient design--19 inches wide, 24 inches deep--and the server's capacity to be built into a rack along with several of its kind. "The basic model that many of the service providers are deploying is not 'a fewer number of larger servers,' but a multiplicity of servers," Rosen points out. Rather than requiring a few centrally situated work-horse servers, service providers have come to IBM with requirements for large quantities of rack-mountable systems, which affords service providers "granularity of growth, particularly in environments where you're really not sure what you need to plan for because your growing at 20, 30, 40, 50, 100 percent per month," Rosen adds.

Additionally, according to Rosen, "in some application areas--like commerce--companies can share servers amongst some of their customers, but, increasingly, customers are beginning to request a dedicated server." This may not be ideal from a cost perspective, but service providers can find ways to make up this cost through service charges for dedicated servers.

The Pizzazz is a concrete example of where IBM's new ISP business unit and partner program is going. IBM is looking to penetrate deeper into the service provider marketplace. The business unit was formed to accommodate a variety of IT industry service providers, including: the ISP, those who do Web hosting; NSP, those who provide outsourced network connections to the Internet; portals; companies that host co-location services; and application service providers (ASPs).

"There's an evolving definition of what a service provider is in this new marketplace," Rosen says. "Companies looking for service providers are looking to solve a particular business problem. These companies are looking for people to partner with who can help them do that, so our focus is not just to bring a box or a specific product to the market, but bringing more of a business proposition that includes the box, hardware, services and, in some cases, the marketing programs."

As a result of these trends in the market, the most "salient physical feature" of the Pizzazz--scheduled for availability this fall--is not its speeds and feeds, but the fact that it is IBM's first 19x24-inch rack mount solution, according to Rosen.

--L. Greenemeier