Big Blue’s Blades Go Four-way

IBM Wednesday kicked off the New Year in hardware offerings by unveiling its first four-way blade servers to the market.

Geared for businesses looking to consolidate infrastructure by way of on-demand environments, the IBM eServer BladeCenter HS40 is billed as an “ultra-slim,” 4-way Intel Xeon MP processor-based blade server. The product provides great density without sacrificing power as seven HS40 systems can be placed in a 7U, or 12.25-inch, chassis.

Blades are thin servers that are stacked side by side in a chassis, which some observers liken to books on a shelf, or files in a cabinet. They take up much less space than refrigerator-sized mainframes or traditional large box machines in a data center, a huge plus in this real-estate conscious era.

IBM eServer BladeCenter Director Tim Dougherty told the 60 millimeter-thick HS40 is twice the thickness of its HS20 brethren, which IBM rolled out last year.

But Dougherty said the HS40 handles far heavier workloads than its little brother, including enterprise resource planning (ERP) , database and collaboration applications. Pricing will be unveiled when the HS40 rolls out next month.

The HS40 is also slimmer than HP’s ProLiant BL40p 4-way blade servers, which appeared last year, Dougherty said. HP
is only able to place two of its 4-way blade systems in a 9U chassis, which he said means that the HS40 offers more than three times the processing power of HP’s blades in a space only three quarters the size of HP’s product.

Compact yet powerful, 4-way systems are becoming increasingly popular for companies looking to consolidate workloads. Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM is banking on blade servers as a lynchpin in its on-demand strategy, where systems self-configure on the fly and upgrade or downgrade capacity based on changes in the workload demand.

Such systems require fewer personnel, helping businesses cut IT costs. For example, IBM released its Tivoli Intelligent ThinkDynamic Orchestrator, which blends BladeCenter with a cross-section of IBM’s software lines to power on-demand environments with such tasks as automated server provisioning.

According to market research firm IDC, IBM enjoyed a fine third quarter for its blade server shipments, stealing the lead from HP in unit shipments and revenue, with $57 million in sales to HP’s $54 million and 18,000 shipments to HP’s 14,000.

IBM will roll out its two-processor BladeCenter JS20, the first blade server running IBM’s 64-bit 1.6GHz PowerPC 970 chips, later this quarter.

In keeping with its four-way server theme, IBM Wednesday also unveiled a rack-optimized system with significant internal storage capacity. The eServer xSeries 365 is also powered by the latest Intel Xeon MP processors and takes shape in the form of a 3U design.

Starting at $7,039, the x365 is designed to serve applications and offers six internal hard disk drives with storage capacity of up to 876 gigabytes or an optional configuration with four internal hard disk drives and DDS tape backup.

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