IBM Launches Entry-Level Server

Today, IBM Corp. completedits launch of its new Unix server line with the introduction of the p610server. The p610 is a two-processor Unix server, positioned in a market spacelong dominated by Sun Microsystems, Inc.

The eServer p610 features two of IBM’s Power 3 RISCprocessors, and is available in both tower and 5U rackmount cases. It has sixhot-swappable disk drives, up to 8GB of memory, and five PCI slots. The servercan run AIX 5L, Linux, or an older version of AIX, 4.3.

Although IBM would like enterprises to move to AIX 5L,AIX 4.3 support was important for the new server line. Chuck Bryan, director ofpSeries at IBM, says because many enterprises have applications that use theolder OS, they want to stick with it when buying new hardware. “We’re prettymuch at the mercy of ISV support,” he says, “Right now all the majorapplications are for AIX 4.33.”

“The p610 will most likely be used as a front endserver,” Bryan says. In enterprises with multi-tier architecture, the p610 willserve up presentation layers, while larger servers, such as the recentlyannounced Regatta, will do the heavy lifting. Bryan says smaller businesses mayuse it as a database or application server.

IBM positions the p610 as an entry-level server. IDCdefines the entry-level Unix market as servers that cost less than $100,000, amarket space dominated by Sun. Bryan says IBM is creeping up on Sun in marketshare and hopes the p610 will continue that trend.

Bryan believes the larger number of PCI slots and drivebays will attract enterprises away from Sun. “The servers are used by largeenterprises,” he says, “What they’re looking for is a lot more expandability inthe box.” In addition, IBM says the p610 outscored a comparable Sun server, theSun Fire 280R, on the Specjbb benchmark.

IBM designed the p610 with reliability in mind. “Theytend to be fairly neglected boxes – they need to be reliable,” Bryan says. IBMadapted the Eliza self-healling technologies for the entry level and integratedthem into the p610. The server is able to detect and record errors, and it cantake failed components out of service when the system is rebooted.

The p610 joins the recently launched p660 and p690“Regatta” servers in IBM’s new Unix line.  Chris McConnell