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Hardware Today: For Linux, Maturity Leads to Inroads Page 2

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted Jan 24, 2005


Big Bluenux

Perhaps the biggest emerging trend, though, is the distinct blue hue Linux is taking on. True to its word, Big Blue is rolling open source into more and more of its products. For example, IBM introduced a new line of 64-bit POWER5 processor-based systems tuned for SUSE and Red Hat Linux.

As a result, IBM is posting the greatest growth among the big Linux hardware players. According to IDC, its Linux revenue year-to-year grew 52 percent in 3Q04, making IBM the top worldwide Linux-based server vendor in revenue for the quarter. But with HP and Dell expected to redouble their efforts to regain market share, IBM is not letting up on its Linux push.

"The emergence of scalable Linux has accelerated the migration process from Unix and Solaris hardware to lower-cost commodity-based machines running Intel processors," said Mancusi-Ungaro. "This is pushing Linux into the heart of the data center."

This commitment was re-enforced today with Big Blue's announcement of an entry-level server line built on Linux and POWER5 with a price tag of $3,499. The IBM eServer OpenPower 710 is a 1- to 2-way rackmount system that supports Red Hat and SUSE Linux. It uses high-end features of larger server systems, such as IBM's 64-bit Power Architecture technology, mainframe-inspired virtualization, and micro-partitioning capabilities. According to Joe Doria, program director of Linux on Power for IBM, the 2-way OpenPower 710 outperformed HP and Sun rivals in Linpack and SPECompM2001 benchmarks. He notes that more than 900 ISV applications are now available on the OpenPower platform. This includes the recent addition of a 64-bit combination of SAP and IBM DB2.

IBM plans to formally release the OpenPower 710 in mid-February. The expected configuration is POWER5 microprocessors, 1- to 2-way racks, and maximum memory of 32 GB. The sub-$3,500 price tag includes a 1.65 GHz processor, 1 GB of memory, and a 73 GB 10K drive. The base configuration, however, excludes the operating system itself.

Virtual Linux

Part of the attractiveness of OpenPower is that it makes mainframe-based virtualization technology more broadly available. Small and midsize businesses are looking at these technologies to reduce cost, consolidate and simplify data center management, and speed infrastructure deployments. Not surprisingly, many Linux hardware and software vendors have either developed virtualization features or have them in the works.

"Linux is increasingly chosen as a platform for high availability computing due to its virtualization features," said Novell's Mancusi-Ungaro. "Large-scale Linux systems running multiple virtual sessions provide breakthrough price performance to the corporate data center."

Novell is already on the virtualization fast track with SUSE Linux. It is about to embed some major features in its operating system that virtualize CPU and storage resources. Service Pack 1 for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 will include two features for the Itanium 2 platform: CPUSET and PAGG. CPUSET enables administrators to dedicate processor subsets to specific tasks, and PAGG allows the defining and grouping of processing and applications.

"The emergence of scalable Linux has accelerated the migration process from Unix and Solaris hardware to lower-cost commodity-based machines running Intel processors," said Mancusi-Ungaro. "This is pushing Linux into the heart of the data center."

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