IBM Points Blades at Telecom Industry

The eServer BladeCenter T servers will be designed to withstand the rugged environments in which many telecom systems are housed.

At the SuperComm networking show next week, IBM will demo its upcoming blade systems designed for the telecommunications industry.

The eServer BladeCenter T servers, which will be available in the first half of 2004, will be designed to withstand the rugged environments in which many telecom systems are housed, said Tony Evans, vice president of telecommunications in IBMs Systems Group.

The systems also will be designed to enable cross-platform compatibility between the telecom servers and the enterprise BladeCenter systems, Evans said.

"As we looked at this industry, one of the things we recognized was the huge emphasis on taking costs out of the infrastructure without compromising quality," he said.

The systems modular design will offer lower-cost blade servers that offer rapid deployment, he said. They will be powered by Intel Corp. chips, feature a carrier-grade Linux operating system and offer the same management tools used to control the Armonk, N.Y., companys enterprise blades. Evans said the plan now is to make the servers two-way systems, although there may be four-way systems also offered.

They also will be coupled with IBMs Service Provider Delivery Environment, a set of standards, APIs and protocols developed for the carrier industry.

The systems will be NEBS 3 (Network Equipment Building System 3) compliant—which is important for servers that often are housed in more hostile environments than those found in enterprise data centers—and ETSI (European Telecommunications Standard Industry) certified, a similar standard in Europe.

The telecommunications industry is becoming a key target for blade server vendors. Sun Microsystems Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., in November and March rolled out blade systems for telcos, the Netra CP2300 and CompactPCI CT 410 and 810 servers.

And Doug Erwin, the new chairman and CEO at RLX Technologies Inc., listed the telecom industry as one of several areas that The Woodlands, Texas, blade pioneer is eyeing.

"I think theres a role in blades beyond just replacing servers," Erwin said. "Think about all the customers that produce equipment in racks—storage, telcos. ... Theres no reason why, if designed properly with slight tweaks to our hardware, we cant go in and supply [blade technology] to other people."

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