IBM Rolls Out Blade Roadmap

The company is planning to expand its blade server offerings and make additions to its line of Intel-based systems in an effort to stay competitive.

NEW YORK—IBM is planning an aggressive expansion of its blade server offerings that will include additions to its line of Intel-based systems, an upgraded Power blade and a new server running on the new Cell chip.

IBM officials outlined the product roadmap at an event here on Feb. 8 for about 250 reporters, analysts and customers.

They also announced here that the group, which was first talked about last summer, is now up and running with about 40 initial members.

The push with the new products, which will roll out over the next few months, is part of IBMs efforts to keep its position in the increasingly competitive blade server space.

It currently is a two-company race at the top between IBM and Hewlett-Packard, with Dell as a distant third.

William Zeitler, senior vice president and group executive for IBMs Systems and Technology Group, said IBM holds the lead with about 40 percent market share.

Analyst firm IDC expects the blade market to grow to $10 billion by 2009, when 20 percent of all servers sold will be blades.

Key to IBMs new products is the BladeCenter H chassis, which offers up to 10 times as much I/O bandwidth as the current chassis.

It offers up to four 4X InfiniBand fabrics as well as support for both 10GB Ethernet and 10GB Fibre Channel. There also are up to four high-speed bridge modules.

A key to the new chassis is that customers can run any current or future blades in it, said Susan Whitney, general manager of IBMs xSeries unit.

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead more here about IBM outfitting its line of System i5 servers with the new Power5+ processor.

"Our blades are absolutely compatible from chassis to chassis to chassis," Whitney said, countering a criticism from competitors leading up to the announcement.

The new chassis will be available in March.

IBM also announced new management tools with the chassis.

The Advanced Management Module, which will be integrated into IBMs Director and Tivoli software, will automate blade management tasks that currently are done manually.

In addition, Power Executive will enable users to monitor their data center power requirements and use power and cooling as needed.

"Its about making real-time data center server decisions and putting the data in our hands," Whitney said.

In addition, an industry-standard iSCSI connection that will be available in the middle of this year will enable users to integrate their blade servers with System i5s virtual storage, networking and tape resources.

Next Page: Rising costs.