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IBM and Bull expand relationship with new initiatives for the UNIX and Blade markets

Companies celebrate 15th anniversary of relationship

PARIS, France - 11 Dec 2007: IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Bull announce today the expansion of their relationship with new initiatives for the UNIX and blade server markets. The companies also announced that they have reached the 15th anniversary of their successful relationship, a strategic agreements with one of the longest lifespans in the fast-moving IT market.

New initiatives for the Blade server market
IBM and Bull are announcing today that they are expanding their relationship into the blade server market. Blade computers integrate servers, storage, networking and applications into one system that allows users to run their businesses with fewer IT staff and energy resources. Owing to their simplicity, blade servers have become a significant segment of the worldwide server market -- representing 11.9% percent of x86 server revenue share in the EMEA market, with a yearly growth that has reached almost 60 percent in the past two years1

Effective immediately, IBM and Bull are extending their OEM agreement to integrate IBM blade servers into Bull’s Escala and NovaScale product lines. Notably, the x86-based NovaScale Blade Series systems Bull has offered since 2003 will now be procured through this OEM relationship, as will Bull Escala EL460B.

“Bull selected IBM blade technology for its Escala and NovaScale product lines because we believe it is the best blade solution on the market today,” said Philippe Miltin, Vice President, Bull Products and Systems. “We are pleased to offer our clients the superior reliability, energy efficiency and openness that IBM blade technology provides.”

NovaScale and Escala blade systems will share a common chassis, helping customers to mix and match both x86 and Power-based blade systems into the same physical environment, allowing clients to run all of their diverse work loads inside a single architecture that reduces complexity and improves systems management.

Bull recently joined Blade.org, the industry group driving innovation in blade-based solutions. The organization provides leadership to the blade market and fosters a thriving industry ecosystem focused on delivering valuable solutions to blade computing customers. Bull will be promoting activities of Blade.org across members in Europe, recruiting new members, holding meetings and enlarging the activities of the community.

As one of the hardware vendors involved in Blade.org, Bull is currently investing in the development of new x86 blade servers and will be announcing an updated roadmap in the first half of 2008.

Development of new UNIX systems based on the POWER6 processor
IBM and Bull are accelerating the development of POWER6-based servers.

The two companies have recently expanded their R&D collaboration, with Bull taking responsibility for the development and validation of select POWER6-based entry range systems. These systems will be marketed by IBM as part of its System p range, and by Bull as part of its Escala range. 

Initially announced by IBM in May 2007, POWER6 processor, the world's fastest chip, is built using IBM's state-of-the-art 65 nanometer process technology. At 4.7GHz, the dual-core POWER6 processor doubles the speed of the previous generation POWER5 while using nearly the same amount of electricity to run and cool it, meaning customers can use the new processor to either increase their performance by 100 percent or cut their power consumption virtually in half. The first system announced by IBM and Bull based on this technology was a 16-core midrange server (IBM System p 570, Bull Escala PL1660R). In November 2007, the companies announced their first POWER6-based blade servers (IBM BladeCenter JS22, Bull Escala EL460B).

Moreover, Bull key UNIX experts have been recently involved in the co-writing of IBM’s Redbooks on Advanced Power Virtualization and Workload Partitions. In parallel, they have worked on the Beta program of the newly announced Workload Partition feature, now available with AIX6.

15 years of joint innovation
Initially launched in 1992 as an OEM agreement and as a technology co-operation agreement in the then-emerging UNIX market, the relationship has enabled Bull to bring to market the Escala product line, a wide range of servers supporting the AIX operating system and based on the Power processor platform. Thousands of customers have chosen Escala servers as the platform for their high-performance, mission-critical business applications.

Bull’s contribution to the development of the AIX ecosystem has made this technology one of the most important in the market, achieving 29.4% of revenue share of the UNIX market in EMEA in 2006, and reaching 49.7% in France1.

Since its inception, the relationship has been founded on active marketing by Bull of the Power-based Escala product line, but also on a very strong technology and R&D collaboration.

Overall, a team of more than 100 engineers is currently involved at Bull in the relationship with IBM and in the development of hardware and software products related to AIX and Power.

The IBM-Bull relationship has brought to market many innovations in the UNIX market, contributing to the emergence of UNIX as the most solid technology for deploying high-impact business applications.

Notably, Bull was instrumental in the mid-90s in developing the multi-processing capabilities of the AIX operating system, creating an SMP architecture that eventually led UNIX Power/AIX systems to consistently record some of the highest-performance benchmarks in the market. Bull also developed in that timeframe the very first SMP-based Power systems.

Strong market recognition
Over the years the relationship between IBM and Bull has been recognized by many customers, who have selected the Escala server range as the foundation of their most demanding business applications, leveraging Bull’s open systems approach and the deep skills of Bull’s engineering centres. Bull’s expertise is focused on the optimization of the topology of data centres, through services aimed at facilitating the consolidation of complex, distributed network of servers. Bull is also focusing on the integration of open components into the AIX ecosystem, notably storage subsystems as well as mainstream middleware components or Open Source Software components.

“The relationship between IBM and Bull has taken the UNIX market into new frontiers", said Jean-Philippe Vanot, Executive Vice-President, Information Technology, Network and Carriers at France Telecom. "Strong innovation between the two partners has enabled Bull Escala servers to become one of the most solid foundations for some of our most critical applications, such as network supervision, customer relationship management and call collect. We will continue to track the progress of IBM and Bull in the UNIX market and expect new innovations to be quickly brought to market as their partnership continues.”

“The expansion of our relationship with Bull will enable us to increase the range of industry-leading servers for our clients on innovative new technologies," said Bill Zeitler, Senior Vice President and Group Executive, IBM Systems and Technology Group. “We are extremely pleased to enter new domains of collaboration with Bull, notably in the blade server space, where we expect that Bull skills in building complex, demanding infrastructure solutions will bring more success to our strategic partnership.”

“We want to thank IBM for their outstanding support in building a successful partnership over the years,” continued Didier Lamouche, Bull Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Our Customers today benefit from the most advanced UNIX platform in the market, combined with the strong skills of our engineering teams who provide them with solutions that are fulfilling their most demanding performance and reliability requirements."

Contact(s) information

Renaud Faffaelli
IBM Media Relations (France)
+33-1-4905-8778
renaud.raffaelli@fr.ibm.com

Jim Smith
IBM Media Relations (U.S.)
914-766-4231
smithje@us.ibm.com

Related XML feeds
Topics XML feeds
Business partners
Business partner information including strategic alliances
Microelectronics
Engineering & Technology Services, OEM, microelectronics
Servers
System i, System p, System x, System z, BladeCenter, and Supercomputers

1 All market figures are specified in this document: source Gartner Group Servers Quarterly Statistics Europe: Database 20 November 2007 Markets

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