Big Blue Delivers Native Linux Server

IBM Wednesday again staged a competitive assault on HP when it launched a new pSeries server with a twist — it comes, solely, with the Linux operating system.

The strategy behind the new eServer p630 is a departure from Big Blue’s past, in which the systems vendor shipped pricier pSeries systems with both AIX, IBM’s UNIX operating system, and Linux for 64-bit processor machines. By offering just Linux, IBM is again trying to finesse a new pricing point to lure customers in economically-challenged IT environments.

Like IBM’s p650, released in November, the p630
is packed with POWER4 processors. Also like last month’s pSeries machine, the new p630 is targeted at undercutting HP’s
similarly calibrated machines: Big Blue claims its p630 running Linux with a POWER4 microprocessor is 44 percent less expensive than the cost of HP’s Itanium 2-based rx5670 server running Linux.

The eServer p630 is available with one, two or four POWER4 processors and up to eight GB of memory, in a rack or tower configuration.

“We are unbundling AIX from our pSeries UNIX servers,” said IBM Program Director for pSeries Linux Chuck Bryan. “We think Linux is really at its maturity level in the two- to eight-way space.”

Bryan told IBM already offers customers the choice of running Linux or AIX5L operating system simultaneously on the entire pSeries line with its partitioning capability, a system of taking a computer’s processors, memory and storage and splitting them into smaller units where each can be run with its own instance of the operating system and applications.

Bryan said IBM will also offer its WebSphere, DB2 and Tivoli management software for Linux on the new eServer systems, with IBM early versions of the software available at no charge for developers.

HP’s Worldwide Linux Director Judy Chavis countered IBM’s “better value” assertions, telling that “IBM is late to the game again with the introduction of its “new” Linux-only configuration pSeries. HP has sold a Linux-only configured
server since the introduction of Itanium in 2001.”

The p630 is available now at a starting price of $15,577.

While IBM is confident about its new server, HP can take cold comfort in its new position as leading UNIX system seller. IDC claimed recently that HP overtook Sun Microsystems in the UNIX market. IBM, however, is the global server market leader.

Moreover, HP maintained its No. 1 position in the Linux server market across all server platforms with 31.7 percent customer revenue market share worldwide. IBM lost market share in Linux sequentially while HP increased its leadership margin in units shipped and revenue overall.

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