IBM Shifts xSeries Strategy

IBM Monday released Director 3.1 and announced the latest addition to its Project eLiza initiative. IBM also announced that it will take its eServer xSeries servers head-to-head with Dell Computer’s comparable offerings.

Project eLiza’s goal is to create intelligent IT systems capable of managing, protecting, and healing themselves automatically.

Director 3.1 brings self-healing technology to the Intel-based xSeries server line. The new technology included with Director provides real-time diagnostics and the capability to “debug a server while it remains up and running,” Jay Bretzmann director of worldwide marketing for IBM told ServerWatch. This feature alone will save enterprises as much as 18 hours of downtime, Bretzmann added.

Other highlights of Director 3.1 include software rejuvenation functionality, user interface improvements, usability enhancements, and new configuration tools.

These enhancements enable IBM to claim an 80 percent cost savings for xSeries systems over Dell servers, as calculated using Gartner’s Return on Availability Tool. The Return on Availability Tool compared Dell’s and other competitors’ products to the xSeries and matched them based on availability.

With Sun Microsystems’ servers time and again appearing as the main competition of the Unix-based pSeries eServer product line, IBM Monday also announced its new marketing strategy that positions Dell as its next sparring partner.

Bretzmann cited a Merrill Lynch study that found an overall reduction in IT budgets for 2002 and a increase in hardware budgets of 2 percent for this time. Thus, it stands to reason that IS organizations will try to stretch their budget dollars as far as they can, and this is where total cost of ownership and the importance of availability come into play.

Despite a common misconception that, according to Bretzmann, IBM’s servers are pricier than those of its competitors, both Dell’s and Big Blue’s products are in the same price range. It’s when total cost of ownership is examined that IBM calls the upper hand — the savings from the increased uptime and other ease-of-use features that Director 3.1 offers.

For example, IBM claims that over a five year period its self-healing technology could save a midsize business using an eServer x220 as much as $53,110 in operating costs over a similarly configured Dell 1400SC server; using similar configurations, a large enterprise could save $553,280 in operating costs for the same period.

Director 3.1 will be included with all new xSeries servers sold. Upgrades are available for enterprises that have already purchased an xSeries server.

Amy Newman is managing editor of sister site Serverwatch.

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