The new offerings range from a development community focused on IBMs BladeCenter blade server platform to the newest member of the companys mainframe system, the massive z9. IBM also introduced an upgraded virtualization engine.
"The online environment has given way to the on-demand environment," William Zeitler, senior vice president and group executive for IBMs STG (Systems and Technology Group), told more than 100 reporters and analysts at an event here.
"It has lead to much deeper levels of collaboration [between businesses as well as between vendors and their clients]. … The demands of collaboration form the foundation of the new systems you see today," Zeitler said.
According to IBM officials, businesses want an IT infrastructure that enables them to better utilize their resources and better take advantage of the rapidly increasing amount of data being brought together by the Internet.
Keys to achieving these goals include virtualization capabilities, security and open standards, Zeitler said.
"Everything will have to be virtualized," he said.
The announcements IBM made Tuesday focused on those elements. Most visible was the z9, a mainframe system that cost IBM $1.2 billion to develop over the past three years and that will be available in September, said Erich Clementi, general manager of IBM Systems.
The new system offers twice the performance and memory capacity of the current z990, Clementi said. In addition, the z9 has 60 percent more processor capacity and 80 percent more internal bandwidth, he said.
However, the new system also increases the virtualization and encryption capabilities of the mainframe. The z9 can create up to 60 LPARs (logical partitions)—twice the number of the z990.
Specialty engines—called the System z9 Application Assist Processor and Integrated Facility for Linux—enable users to run Java- and Linux-based applications on the same platform.
Other capabilities include the ability to manage resources on other platforms via an upgraded Virtualization Engine and IBM Director, and interoperability of the z9 and IBMs TotalStorage SAN (storage area network) Volume Controller.
On the security side, the z9 will be able to encrypt data throughout the system—as opposed to simply on the processor—and will offer consistent security policies on the network as well as server and data.
Zeitler said the mainframe, which has been a target of criticism from competitors who say it is too expensive, will continue to be a key part of IBMs systems strategy, not only for what it can offer users but also as a development environment for technologies that eventually make their way down to IBMs other platforms. He also discounted claims that the systems are closed.
"The reason the mainframes have grown over the last four or five years is their ability to run new workloads [like Linux]," Zeitler said.
IBM also rolled out an upgraded version of its Virtualization Engine. Version 2.0 offers new features such as Resource Dependency Service, which can automatically discover data center resources, and Integrated Virtual Management, which includes a browser-based interface that eases the task of virtualizing servers and provides greater support for virtual machines and LPARs.
The Enterprise Workload Manager offers greater support of heterogeneous data centers, dynamic management of partitions on Power5-based systems and integration with zSeries network load balancing.
IBM is also working on future enhancements, focusing on such areas as moving a virtual system among physical servers, automated business resiliency and expanded virtual resource management, said Rod Adkins, vice president of development at STG..
IBM also launched Blade.org, a development community designed to accelerate hardware and software solutions based on the BladeCenter platform developed by IBM and Intel Corp.
The two companies opened the architecture last year to encourage development on the platform. On stage with Susan Whitney, general manager of IBM Systems, were representatives from several founding members of Blade.org, including Intel, VMware Inc., Cisco Systems Corp., Citrix Systems Inc. and Network Appliance Inc.
The open community concept mirrors other efforts by IBM—such as the Power.org group—to generate development around a platform. Whitney said that already there are more than 260 developers offering products based on the platform, thanks to the companies decision last year to open the BladeCenter architecture.
There also are more than 350 companies in the Blade Center Alliance Program. Whitney said she hopes the establishment of Blade.org will have a similar effect, driving blade server innovation into such areas as voice over IP, security and particular verticals.
Douglas Balog, vice president of IBMs BladeCenter business, said developers will be able to test the compatibility of their products with the blade server architecture. He also said the group will encourage the expansion of blade technology beyond servers and into other areas such as storage and I/O.
Rob Redford, vice president of products and technology at Cisco, said his company has been working with IBM to develop blade technology based on the InfiniBand interconnect technology that will help tie IT resources together.
IBMs Balog said that it made sense for Cisco and IBM to work together on InfiniBand-based technology, considering that Cisco last year bought InfiniBand vendor Topspin and that IBM used Topspin technologies.
Kirk Skaugen, general manager of Intels Server Platforms Group, said the chip maker will continue to put an emphasis on dense form factors such as blades. Later this week Intel will roll out new low-voltage Xeon processors designed specifically for blades and other smaller rack-optimized systems, Skaugen said.
In addition, as Intel introduces new versions of chips—such as when the company launches its dual-core Xeons—there will be models specifically targeting dense form factors.