Consolidating Virtualization

By Scott Ferguson  |  Posted 2008-01-29 Print this article Print

Gordon Haff, an analyst with Illuminata, in Nashua, N.H., said that while Jan. 29's announcement lacked specific new technology from IBM, it does show that the company is trying to consolidate its various virtualization offerings into a single offering that makes it easier for smaller businesses to consider.

"Basically, they are talking about some new entry-level servers and virtualization that is targeting a small and midsized business [SMB] audience," Haff said. "A lot of it is rebranding, and what PowerVM allows IBM to do is pull all virtualization offerings under one umbrella term. IBM has a lot of different pieces of virtualization, and it's a complex portfolio."

At the beginning of the year, IBM announced that it planned to reorganize itself to better address its SMB customers. Some analysts believe that the SMB market is worth $500 billion in products and services, and IBM's new focus is to let smaller customers know that the company has their needs in mind.

System p, for example, has been considered an enterprise-class system, but IBM has begun to reorganize its business to show that a System p server can easily work in a smaller company as well as in a larger enterprise.

Scott Handy, vice president for worldwide marketing and strategy for IBM's Power systems, said while part of Jan. 29's announcement was rebranding, it also showed where  IBM is heading with its virtualization strategy for smaller customers.

"It's new that we have split this into a whole family now," Handy said, referring to PowerVM.

"Also new is the Lx86, and that allows all three editions [of PowerVM to] run Linux x86 binaries, which based on our beta we are going to have pretty good customer acceptance," Handy added. "Over time, this will become even more significant as we roll out new virtualization technologies; we will stop rolling out individual things you can order and just put them into one of these three releases. So this greatly simplifies how customers acquire virtualization technology from us."

On the hardware side, IBM is offering two entry-level System p servers. The p520 supports up to four Power processing cores and offers up to 64GB of memory. The p550 can support up to eight Power processing cores and offers 256GB of memory, which Handy said helps support a number of virtual environments.

The virtualization software and new hardware will be available in February. The Power6-based blade will be available in March, according to IBM.



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