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RealTime IT News

IBM Boasts 200th Customer for Baby Mainframe

Pausing for a moment to fire a competitive shot at rival Sun Microsystems, IBM Wednesday let the world know that it has secured its 200th customer for its z800 series, or "baby mainframe" for conducting electronics business.

Sports apparel outfit Russell Corporation is the latest buyer of the entry-level mainframe, which began shipping March 29. The announcement is geared to fly in the face of Sun's Project Blue Away, an aggressive attempt to see to it that IBM customers are whisked away in favor of Sun's Unix-based servers.

Russell, which does $1 billion in sports apparel sales annually, will use the z800 and IBM's DB2 Universal Database as the backbone of a distribution and customer service system that process up to 75,000 transactions an hour, or up to 1.8 million transactions daily. The outfit receives Web-based product orders from its customers at its data processing facility in Alexander City, Ala., and subsequently schedules and tracks these orders at distribution centers in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Scotland.

Key features of the z800 include its z/VM virtualization technology, which makes ideal for consolidating as few as 20 and up to hundreds of Sun or Intel servers on a single physical box.

The server market, in between new releases from the likes of IBM, Sun and Hewlett-Packard, could use a boost, as market research firm said recently that worldwide server factory revenue has declined for the fifth consecutive quarter. IDC said this sector contracted 20 percent from $13.4 billion in 1Q01 to $10.7 billion in 1Q02.

It was the Unix server market, and not the smaller mainframe market, that contracted more than any other niche, with revenue declining 24 percent to $4.7 billion. Sun Microsystems led in this space with 34 percent market share, followed by HP with 27 percent. IBM and Compaq rounded out the top 4 vendors with 17 percent and 7 percent market share, respectively.

IDC analyst Vernon Turner said the slump should be slowing.

"While the market continued to decline, results certainly indicate that the environment is improving," said Vernon Turner, IDC's group vice president of Global Enterprise Server Solutions. "Relatively flat sequential growth for Sun Microsystems, Dell, and Compaq's Industry Standard Server Group all help point to firming conditions for the volume server market and a return to a more predictable demand."

The top-five vendors in the worldwide market based on revenue share for the first quarter of 2002 were IBM (with 23 percent), Compaq (with 17 percent), Sun Microsystems (with 14.8 percent), Hewlett-Packard (with 14.6 percent) and Dell (with 8 percent).