IBM: Intel, Linux, or Unix -- Virtually Yours

By Clint Boulton (Send Email)
Posted Sep 30, 2003


IBM Tuesday moved to bolster its utility computing offerings with new on-demand services that let customers draw from its three other server lines. IBM Tuesday moved to bolster its utility computing offerings with new on-demand services that let customers draw from its three other server lines.

Big Blue began offering virtual server capacity on its zSeries mainframes in July 2002, but to add breadth to its on-demand strategy the Armonk, N.Y.-based systems vendor has extended that capability to its remaining three eServer platforms, the Intel-based xSeries, Unix-based pSeries and Linux-oriented iSeries systems.

The systems will be hosted and users will pay for the power and capacity they require akin to the way power is drawn from the electric company. While this is not novel in itself, companies such as Veritas, Computer Associates, Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard have leapt into the fray, and now IBM is offering these services on Intel, Linux, and Unix, which none of the other vendors can claim.

IBM argues that these "virtual server services" not only offer more choices than rival vendors offer, but they also can help businesses save as much as 30 percent on costs by having them hosted, as opposed to setting them up and running them in-house. Users can run single or multiple applications or services within the virtual machine.

While many enterprises opt to keep the large, physical boxes on site, customers that choose IBM's virtual services can tap the computing power remotely, from IBM-hosted datacenters. They don't need to worry about having a trained systems administrator around to fix problems as they arise or conduct maintenance because IBM's systems do that from afar. Virtual server solutions are deployed from an IBM Service Delivery Center and managed by IBM Global Services.

Mike Riegel, a manager with IBM's E-business hosting unit, said traditional infrastructure use involved the design of a new application around which hardware and software would be configured for peak loads. However, Riegel, told internetnews.com, oftentimes only 15 to 20 percent of the system was used, resulting in large capital outlay. With virtual server services, an application may be deployed online and designed for exactly how much utilization there will be.

IDC Senior Analyst Dan Tapper said the virtual server services are a compelling offering from IBM, noting that no one else that has staked a claim to the utility computing trend has anything resembling the offering yet.

"What this is doing is expanding the operating environments on which customers can deploy applications," Tapper told internetnews.com. "No one's going to care about the hardware 12 to 24 months out. They want to know 'can I put an application on it and run it?'"

Tapper said his firm conducted research about utility computing services, the results of which indicated that IT officials expected to save, on average, about 28 percent on costs from using such services, as opposed to running and managing hardware on site. This puts IBM's claim of 15 percent to 30 percent of IT savings right in the thick of meeting customers' expectations.

"IBM is clearly hitting the right buttons," Tapper said. "The biggest costs for IT environments are in real estate and management. This saves labor costs, the scales of efficiency are greater and administrators are not required to have the skill sets to manage these virtual systems. IBM believes the concept of the next generation of IT coming from a services provider."

IBM's Riegel said the vendor's next logical step, now that the final virtual infrastructure layer has been completed, is to make the offering available through application partners in the coming months. This, he said, will serve as the foundation for the company's move to business process outsourcing.

Customers will be charged a one-time setup fee, followed by variable monthly recurring charges for the computing capacity that is used.

This article was originally published on internetnews.com

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