IBM updates Power server, Linux marketing

Big Blue speeds a midrange Power-based server and has begun a new promotion to woo Linux users.
Written by Stephen Shankland, Contributor
IBM plans to announce an updated Power5+ server Wednesday, along with an effort to woo Linux customers to use it.

The new version of the p5-560Q system uses a faster version of the Power5+ processor running at 1.8GHz compared to the earlier 1.5GHz model, said Scott Handy, vice president of Linux and open source at IBM. The systems employ IBM's Quad-Core Modules, which fit two dual-core Power5+ chips into a single package and let eight of the chips fit into a single system.

Linux is most widely used on servers using x86 processors such as Intel's Xeon and Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron, but IBM is hoping to attract customers to its Power-based systems. Those machines most often run IBM's AIX version of Unix today, but IBM is trying to build software partnerships that make Linux a viable option as well.

To that end, IBM also plans to announce a marketing program at the Open Solutions Summit, an open-source conference in New York. The plan, a new element to its "migration factory," is intended to woo customers using Linux on x86 servers running the popular "LAMP" stack of Web server software--Linux, the Apache Web server, the MySQL database and the PHP scripting language to create Web pages on the fly.

By using virtualization technology on the Power systems, which lets a single processor run multiple operating systems in separate partitions, IBM can replace inefficiently used x86 servers that spend much of their time idling, Handy said. Running LAMP applications, a full rack of five p5-560Q systems running at 70 percent utilization can replace 320 x86 servers that take up nearly eight racks of space and power, Handy said.

IBM isn't the only one with virtualization technology, however. That potential advantage could be undermined by x86 virtualization options such as VMware or SWsoft's Virtuozzo, available on x86 systems today and newer options arriving such as Xen.

IBM also plans to announce Wednesday it's expanded a program called the Integrated Stack for Suse Linux Enterprise from x86-based systems to Power-based systems as well. The program combines Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Server with free editions of IBM's server software--Websphere Community Edition and DB2 Express-C--and Centeris management software that lets administrators with Windows computers govern Linux servers.

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