IBM targets Malaysian Unix server market

Already at the top of the overall Malaysian server market, IBM Malaysia Sdn Bhd will now focus on the Unix server segment with the launch of its latest midrange server models, the IBM eServer p620 and p660.

Already at the top of the overall Malaysian server market, IBM Malaysia Sdn Bhd will now focus on the Unix server segment with yesterday’s launch of its latest midrange server models, the IBM eServer p620 and p660.

KUALA LUMPUR (iStar) – Market research firm IDC’s industry roundup for the year 2000 reported that IBM shipped 42.1% of the total servers sold locally, followed by Sun Microsystems (25.5%) and Hewlett-Packard (16.5%).

A total of 2,127 servers, valued at US$134.2mil (RM510mil), were shipped in Malaysia last year.

However, when it comes to the Unix segment of the market, Sun came in tops (36.5%), followed by HP (23.6%) and IBM (23.1%).

On a worldwide basis, IDC estimated that the Unix server segment, which Sun also dominates, to be worth US$29bil (RM110.2bil) last year. It grew 14% on a year-to-year basis. The Windows server market grew 31% to US$13.9bil (RM52.8bil), while the IBM-dominated mainframe market shrank 18% to US$3.9bil (RM14.8bil).

IDC also said that IBM remains the overall worldwide server market leader (US$13.6bil or RM51.7bil), followed by Sun (US$10.3bil or RM39.1bil) and Compaq (US$10bil or RM38bil).

Meanwhile, the deskside p620 and rack-mounted p660 are the first servers to use IBM’s Silicon-On-Insulator (SOI) technology. Microprocessors with SOI are supposed to run up to 35% faster and at much lower temperatures than traditional aluminium chips, which will boost server uptime.

Additionally, both models incorporate the IBM-pioneered copper microprocessor technology that was first used in the company’s eServer line.

Copper is supposed to provide better performance than aluminium, which is traditionally used for chips, as it is a better electrical conductor.

Big Blue claims that the p660 is the “world’s fastest six-way server,” as it managed 57,346.93 transactions per minute in the TPC-C transaction-processing benchmark.

TPC-C benchmarks are conducted by the Transaction Processing Performance Council, a San Jose, California-based independent organisation.

The p660 and p620 also uses “Chipkill” technology, which is supposed to eliminate memory failures – the most common cause of server downtime.

IBM said that Chipkill is 100 times more effective than the error checking technologies used by many server vendors. If a memory error occurs, Chipkill automatically takes the inoperable chip offline while allowing the server to continue running.

The starting prices of the p620 and the p660 are RM106,300 and RM125,200 respectively.

The local launches of the two new server models were accompanied by Big Blue’s unveiling of AIX 5L Version 5.1, IBM’s implementation of the Unix operating system, which the company billed as “the next generation in Unix.”

AIX 5L will help customers build and manage both Unix and Linux-based applications.IBM continued its intense rivalry with bitter competitor Sun, calling the latter’s products “outdated and expensive.”

“We’re the largest server company in the world, and we intend to remain so. We also intend to be the largest in the Unix market,” said Albert Bunshaft, webserver sales vice-president of IBM Asia Pacific Service Corp.

He said that in the Asia Pacific region, IDC reported that IBM had “trounced the competition” as its market share for servers during the first quarter of this year “grew 8% on a year-to-year basis, while HP and Sun both lost 8% and 5% respectively.”

Bunshaft believed that the two main reasons for IBM’s growth were its “open nature” and the “completeness” of its solutions.

“IBM solutions are not proprietary – Sun’s offerings are purely proprietary and its Solaris servers are its only solutions – and we don’t just offer boxes. Instead, we offer complete and customised solutions that are very attractive for the marketplace,” he claimed.

Quoting an IBM press release, he took a swipe at Sun by saying that the recently announced Sun Fire 3800 is “up to 88% more expensive, consumes three times more electricity, and generates tremendous amounts of heat.”

IBM’s argument is based on published product specifications available at www.ibm.com and www.sun.com; a 4-way IBM eServer p660 with 4GB of memory, a 36GB disk, a DVD/CD-ROM and tape drive costs US$92,885 (RM352,963), while a similarly-configured Sun Fire 3800 costs US$174,445 (RM662,891).

For other performance comparisons, go to www.sun.com/ servers/midrange/sunfire3800/ specs.html and www-1.ibm.com /servers/eserver/pseries/hard ware/midrange/p660.html.

The Sun Fire was also derided as “one of the industry’s costliest platforms for running key software applications” since it required more processors to achieve a certain level of performance.

At press time, Sun Microsystems (M) Sdn Bhd could not be reached for comment.

IBM has been locked in a bitter feud with Sun for the server market over the past several months. IBM’s latest server launches come after Sun last month launched new systems using its UltraSPARC III chips and reduced the pricing for some of its older server models.

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