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RealTime IT News

Four More i5s From IBM

IBM is broadening its iSeries line, rolling out four flavors of a new mid-range server that scales from one to four Power5 processors.

The new eServer i550 is intended to fit between the company's previous i5 machines, the i520 and i570, which were unveiled in May.

The i520 is a one- to two-processor box. While the i570 was originally offered as a one- to four-processor machine, IBM scaled it to 16 in July.

The 16-way machine put the i570 into a larger enterprise bracket, so IBM decided to craft a special mid-range server with four customized editions, according to IBM iSeries Product Marketing Manager Craig Johnson. The move is part of IBM's ambitious Power5 server strategy to garner more market share and best rivals HP, Dell and Sun Microsystems.

The i550 comes with the company's vaunted Virtualization Engine, software that combines components from IBM's Tivoli provisioning tools, WebSphere Grid capability and IBM Director Multi-Platform for a utility computing model.

With it, administrators can partition operating systems like a mainframe running as many as 10 servers per microprocessor. The i550 runs the i5 O5, as well as IBM's own AIX, Linux, and Windows software -- all on one box. IBM considers virtualization a springboard in its company-wide e-business on-demand strategy to give customers more computing flexibility.

The company's capacity upgrade on-demand feature allows customers to "turn on" more processors in the case of traffic spikes or projects that require more power.

Unlike the i520 and the i570, there are four editions of the i550. The enterprise edition is loaded with IBM's software, including symmetric multiprocessing for IBM's DB2 database and starts at $266,000. The standard edition is $74,000.

Johnson told internetnews.com the offerings really get differentiated with the "solution" and Domino editions. At $206,000, the solution edition is offered in conjunction with IBM's independent software vendors and is tailored specifically to customers' needs. The Domino edition features Lotus collaboration software and costs $56,000.

The new i5 editions will be available for purchase September 10.

Johnson also said IBM has spruced up its Virtualization Engine software, offering the i5s for the first time with IBM Director MultiPlatform and Enterprise Workload Manager.

Director, software that had previously only been offered on the company's xSeries machines, allows IT managers to manage and monitor a machine's operating system. Workload Manager provides performance management, allowing managers to set goals for application response time.