IBM Rolls out Regatta with Gap as Major Customer

Armonk, N.Y.’s IBM Corp.
said its highly-touted “Regatta” p690 Unix eServer, which competes head to head with Sun Microsystems Inc.’s
high-end “Starcat” Unix server (formally known as Sun fire 15K), shipped on schedule this week. With the roll out, Big Blue said popular clothing retailer Gap is using two p690s to power supply chain software made by Retek Inc. for its Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy brands.

The server/software combination should help decrease costs while providing a lift to customer service across those brands, according to Ken Harris, CIO, Gap Inc.

“We chose the eServer p690 because it supports our scalability and performance level requirements,” said Harris. “With IBM’s servers and Retek’s software, we are increasing the level of visibility to merchandise in our supply chain and improving the way we plan our business.”

IBM, which unveiled specifications for Regatta a couple of days after Sun disclosed StarCat’s features in September, is using a cheaper price point to try to stick it to Sun, which offers its high-end Unix product for $450,000. The p690, which the company stresses offers layers of self-healing technologies designed to allow the system to continue operating through component failures and system errors, can be operated as a standalone server or divided into 16 “virtual” servers, running any combination of the AIX 5L and Linux operating systems.

Sun’s 106-processor StarCat has already been shipping, according to company spokesperson Liza Santos.

“Since our announcement of the Sun Fire 15K, we’ve had a high demand of products, causing higher than anticipated demand,” Santos told “We are shipping in volume.”

In the broader picture, the outlook for servers worldwide was a bit bleak compared to previous years. In a report released by market research firm IDC last week, the worldwide server market during the third quarter sustained revenue declinations of 30 percent, from $15.2 billion in 3Q00 to $10.7 billion in 3Q01.

Specifically, Unix servers lost 19 percent in revenue. Sun had 28.8 percent of the Unix market in the third quarter, with sales of $1.33 billion while HP was a close second with 28.5 percent of the market to accompany its $1.31 billion in sales. IBM posted revenues of $960 million for 20.9 percent of the market in Q3.

“The difficult economic conditions worldwide were clearly reflected in server sales this quarter,” said Vernon Turner, IDC’s vice president of Global Enterprise Server Solutions. “We expect that price wars, especially in the entry server market will stimulate growth over the next two quarters.”

IBM is still the No. 1 server overall worldwide server vendor with a 26 percent chunk of the market, compared to Sun’s 12.3 percent, according to IDC.

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