Microsoft plans to install the IBM iDataPlex systems at a facility near the company's headquarters in Redmond, Wash. In a statement, the software giant said it plans to use the system to test its operating system as well as test methods of more energy-efficient computing. "This IBM cluster enables us to improve our in-house scalability testing and, in turn, scale to even larger clusters with our partners. In addition to normal testing, where scaling and relative performance are issues, we're participating in the Microsoft Research Energy Efficient Computing effort," according to the Microsoft statement.While companies such as Rackable Systems, Verari Systems and Sun Microsystems have been offering the type of dense systems needed for cloud computing, IBM's entrance into the market could mean a whole new round of serious competition to build out the cloud. Now with Microsoft, IBM has a marquee name to associate with iDataPlex. "There's not much difference with x86 systems, but with iDataPlex, IBM really turned the concept on its ear, and they are looking to add some real value to it," said King. Editor's Note: This article was updated to include a statement from Microsoft.
For IBM, the deal with Microsoft is critical for getting iDataPlex off the ground with a good start and a big customer win. Like Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and others, IBM is looking to break into cloud computing in a big way. For IBM, this not only involves supplying the hardware to build out these "hyper-scale" data centers, but also the expertise to build and design facilities to host cloud computing.