But while Sun and HP typically focus on delivering Unix-based servers, IBM is reviving the mainframe form entirely based on the open
source Linux operating system. Specifically, it's the eServer zSeries 800, a follow-up to last year's z900.
The purpose of the z800 is to entice the small- to medium-sized business customer that might normally look to Sun or HP, as it can
consolidate from 20 to hundreds of Sun and Intel servers. For the IT manager, this significantly lowers the all-important, total
cost of ownership factor.
David N. Mastrobattista, senior industry analyst at Giga Information Group, said the release could turn some heads at LinuxWorld
next week in large part because of its z/VM "virtualization" technology, which allows the mainframe to create as few as 20 and up to
hundreds of virtual Linux servers on a single physical box, thus conserving energy, floor space, and reducing maintenance expense.
"In a nutshell," he said, "what IBM did was take the z900 and repackage it to make it deployable outside of the formal data center."
So, whereas enterprises might traditionally look to Sun or HP to power such duties as firewall, Web serving, file and print serving
and mail serving, they have a new option -- Big Blue.
"This is a way for IBM to take mainframe technology and move it outside the data center," Mastrobattista told InternetNews.com. "The
best way to categorize it is that last year IBM was saying that zSeries 900 was attractive to people looking to consolidate from 60
or 70 servers. With the z800, that guy that used to say 60 or 70, can now to do from 20 or 30 on a baby mainframe."
Mastrobattista also said that while Sun has largely ignored Linux in favor of Unix, IBM made quite a dent in the server market last
year despite the dearth in IT spending. "For a few years, there was an exodus from the mainframe for alternative platforms, but IBM
shows that the time is ripe to stick with it."
In addition, IBM will unveil Linux server iSeries for small- and medium-sized businesses. This item uses IBM's "partitioning"
technology to help customers to reduce cost and complexity by consolidating up to 15 standalone Linux and Windows servers onto a
single physical server. It also supports SuSE and Turbolinux distributions of Linux and includes a rapid deployment feature.
The z800 is valued at $400,000 a pop and the new iSeries server will start at $50,000. Both are expected to be available in the first quarter of 2002.