IBM: i + p = Power

This is both a major midrange product announcement and the final (or, at least, as final as such things ever are) coming together of a complex organizational and product integration task that's been going on for years.

Over the past year or so, IBM has been revamping its Systems and Technology Group (STG) organization in a major way.

We see those changes reflected in a major way with IBM's Power systems announcement Wednesday at its COMMON User Group Conference in Nashville.

Two aspects of the STG reorg are of particular interest here.

The first is the customer aspect. This announcement reflects its venue; COMMON is IBM's midrange user group--which at IBM historically more or less equated to System i (and its iSeries and AS/400 predecessors). However, this announcement pulls in multiple product threads--including blades. This reflects how the client-facing part of the new STG organization now breaks down by customer type, rather than technology base. STG's Business Systems Group (BSG) is chartered with selling to the midmarket--across product groups. This is essentially a return to the older IBM sales model that was subsequently replaced by a more specialist-led approach.

The announcement also reflects changes to the product side of the reorganization. Looking back, System i and System p (to use the product line names in use prior to this announcement), sprang from wholly different roots. System i, long known as the AS/400 (although its lineage actually goes back further to the System/36 and System/38), was long an independent thread of IBM systems development based in Rochester, Minn.

Midwinter trips to AS/400 headquarters were not eagerly sought! It was a competitor to low-end and midrange minicomputers from the likes of Digital Equipment and Wang Labs.

System p, on the other hand, was long called the RS/6000 and had its home base in Austin, Texas. Its competition was other RISC-based servers running Unix such as those from Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems. Especially given that the "old IBM's" product divisions could be best described (however uncharitably) as warring fiefdoms, there was little sharing of technology or anything else between them.

However, IBM has been steadily tearing down the wall between the two lines. Both i and p have used the same Power-family processor for several years now. Still, this week's announcement represents the first time that the wall is truly gone. System i is System p and vice versa. They're now both Power systems.

What this means is that there's now one common set of system models that can run AIX, i, or Linux operating systems--or a combination thereof using the integrated server virtualization features that fall under the PowerVM umbrella. The specific server models covered in this announcement are:

  • IBM Power 520 Express is an entry-level server with up to four Power6 cores. The Power 520 Express is available in AIX, Linux, and i editions.
  • IBM Power 550 Express is a midrange server with up to eight Power6 cores. The Power 550 is also available in AIX, Linux, and i editions.

There's also an i Edition Express for BladeCenter S. This basically backfills i support to previously announced Power blades in the SMB-oriented version of its BladeCenter and also adds the JS12, a new single-socket blade.

This is both a major midrange product announcement and the final (or, at least, as final as such things ever are) coming together of a complex organizational and product integration task that's been going on for years.

About the author

Gordon Haff is Red Hat's cloud evangelist although the opinions expressed here are strictly his own. He's focused on enterprise IT, especially cloud computing. However, Gordon writes about a wide range of topics whether they relate to the way too many hours he spends traveling or his longtime interest in photography.

 

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