IBM Debuts Power5 Server Line for Linux

Harking to the belief that Linux is replacing Windows, Unix and other
operating systems in small and medium-sized businesses, IBM unveiled a new server line optimized for the open source operating

Offered as an alternative to comparable, albeit more expensive, Unix systems
from HP and Sun , the entry-level
eServer OpenPower 720 is the first in what IBM hopes will be a long line of
servers based on the new Power5 architecture, according to Brian Connors,
vice president of Linux on Power.

The OpenPower 720 is a four-processor system capable of sliding easily into
existing environments running Linux software from Red Hat or SuSe Linux,
both tight partners of Big Blue, Connors told

Though it is the inaugural machine in its own new eServer line, OpenPower
720 is the latest in a string of new boxes based on the 64-bit Power5
architecture from IBM, following the p5 and i5 systems. Rolled out this
summer, the chip provides unsurpassed virtualization capabilities,
provisioning as many as 10 separate servers per chip.

The 720 is no exception, Connors said. Moreover, the spokesman claimed 720
features the same reliability, availability and serviceability found in
the company’s mid-range or high-end Unix servers, something that has been
rare in boxes running Linux to this point.

“What we are targeting here is the Unix installed based and customers
looking to transition,” Connors said. “So, OpenPower
is looking at Sun and HP — those customers that are out there that are left
hanging. Linux itself is maturing, and we are working to help accelerate

Starting at $5,000 the OpenPower 720 will ship September 24 with either
1.5GHz or 1.65GHz Power5 chips in a 4-way rack or tower option, with 64
gigabytes of memory. An advanced virtualization option adds another
$2,000. The new server supports Novell’s SuSe Linux Enterprise Server 9 and
Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Server 3.

Not to rest on its laurels, IBM will roll out a 2-way OpenPower system in
the first half of 2005.

However, while Connors and Big Blue see explosive Linux growth on the
horizon, some analysts aren’t so sure.

In a recent report, The Yankee Group advised corporations to delay a Linux
migration — or any software migration — until
they can satisfactorily answer how it can deliver tangible technology
benefits, better return on investment and improved total cost of

Report author Laura DiDio said that Unix and Windows are mature platforms
that continue to evolve technically, making it fiscally unfeasible to
replace Windows. Only 4 percent of Unix users and 10 percent of Windows
users have any desire to switch platforms, she said.

“Our conversations with end users cemented the Yankee Group’s belief that no
operating system is right for everyone,” said DiDio, Application
Infrastructure & Software Platforms Senior Analyst. “Each company must…
make a realistic assessment of their existing software operating system

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