IBM Virtualization Engine Cuts Infrastructure Costs, Complexity

IBM is demonstrating a virtualization initiative that it will extend throughout its server and storage product lines that is designed to enable customers to consolidate systems, reduce expenses and increase utilization of their hardware.

IBM officials on Wednesday will demonstrate a virtualization initiative that they plan to extend throughout their server and storage product lines, starting with the Power-based iSeries later this quarter.

At a meeting with analysts in Palisades, N.Y., IBM will unveil its Virtualization Engine, a project three years in the making that encompasses both software technologies and services designed to enable customers to consolidate systems, reduce expenses and increase utilization of their hardware. "The value of the Virtualization Engine is helping customers simplify their infrastructure," said Susan Puglia, vice president of systems on demand operating environment development. "This enables customers to move to an on-demand environment."

The Virtualization Engine technology continues IBMs effort to take features common to big-iron mainframes—such as dynamic partitioning and virtualization of networking I/O—and bring them to other corporate systems, including the Power-based i- and pSeries systems and Intel Corp.-based xSeries servers.

The Virtualization Engine is a two-pronged approach to the issue of a virtualized environment, Puglia said. It includes the micro-partitioning virtualization technology that will enable users to run as many as 10 virtual servers on a single processor, giving a four-way system the capabilities of a 40-chip server. It also can virtualize the networking, memory and LAN features, she said.

At the same time, the offering includes a host of services, including IBM Director Multiplatform—a version of IBM Director software now found on the xSeries and BladeCenter blade servers—for a single point of management not only for IBM systems but also servers from other vendors, as well as grids and clusters. There also is workload management and provisioning tools from IBMs Tivoli division and an enhanced grid toolbox based on Open Grid Services Architecture and IBMs WebSphere technology, Puglia said.

IBM is gearing up for the release later this year of Power5, the next generation of its RISC-based processor that officials say will offer significant performance gains over the current Power4 and Power4+ chips. Code-named Squadron, the dual-core Power5 architecture will include such enhancements as multithreading capabilities, logical partitioning into the sub-CPU level and dynamic power dissipation.

GH Young International, a Canadian brokerage house, has been using IBM virtualization technology for more than a year as a way of reducing IT costs while making its infrastructure more streamlined and flexible. GHY, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, reduced the number of IBM servers from seven to two, said Nigel Fortlage, vice president of IT. An iSeries 820 works as the companys Linux server, running such tasks as imaging applications, file-and-print serving and Web serving, while an i270 runs its applications related to its customs and trade business as well as its Domino application. Both systems run virtualized I/O and dynamic partitioning, enabling each server to do the work of multiple servers.

The result is an infrastructure that is more flexible and cost-effective, Fortlage said. "Weve seen a 14 percent reduction in our operating budget," he said. "We went from spending 95 percent of our time keeping the servers running to 5 percent."

Fortlage also estimated that the virtualized environment cost about $30,000 less than the alternative, which would have been bringing in nine additional servers to complement the seven already in-house.

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