IBM Unveils Powerful Blade Server For Enterprise Workloads

AOL Time Warner Reduces Costs with IBM BladeCenter

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Armonk, NY - 24 Sep 2002: IBM today introduced its thinnest server to date and one of the most powerful blade servers in the industry -- the IBM eServer BladeCenter based on Intel's fast Xeon processor. It is designed to help large businesses reduce their total cost of ownership by adding individual thin servers easily on demand as capacity needs increase.

This blade server category, which is projected to grow to nearly $3.7 billion by 2006, [1] is based on a new server design -- a server on a removable card that plugs into a chassis (or shared infrastructure) which plugs into a rack. IBM's eServer BladeCenter supports this unique "plug and play" design. The BladeCenter combines high performance computing resources and shared infrastructure to create a cost-effective, high density solution helping companies address infrastructure needs in a data center. This architecture enables the system to offer superior performance at twice the density of most of today's 1U (1.75") Intel Xeon processor based servers.

IBM BladeCenter with the first dual Xeon powered blade from a major server vendor and high availability features, can hold 84 blades per rack -- more than 36 blades per rack than the competing HP ProLiant BL20p system. [2] Additionally, IBM's base blade configured with one fast Intel Xeon processor, together with a disk drive, costs up to 23 percent less than a competing HP blade server configured with an Intel Pentium 3 processor and an Ultra160 SCSI disk . [3]

Many companies have already evaluated IBM's new modular server design including AOL Time Warner. The company was looking for a Linux solution that could help drive down infrastructure costs and simplify its systems management and used the IBM BladeCenter to power part of the AOL datacenter.

"You can only achieve significant cost savings with a disruptive technology, and we see IBM's blade offering as just that," said Dr. Norman Koo, Executive Director, AOL Time Warner. "We expect to deploy a considerable number of integrated enterprise blade solutions across AOL Time Warner in order to maintain our competitive edge and simplify our infrastructure. IBM BladeCenter looks like a good fit for several of our applications."

Built with technology from IBM's high-end server product line, the IBM BladeCenter is one of the only blade systems that offers extra resiliency by including the ability to purchase redundant hot-swap cooling, power and management modules as well as other automatic failover components, so there is no single point of failure. This high availability feature set is critical since users have hundreds or thousands of servers linked together.

The IBM system also supports integrated features such as optional fibre switches. The combination of BladeCenter with IBM TotalStorage FAStT storage can help make SAN infrastructures easy and less costly to manage. By using BladeCenter's integrated fibre switches to implement a fibre channel fabric, customers can save up to 25 percent in costs over a typical IBM rack-optimized server. [4] In addition, with Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, the BladeCenter and IBM TotalStorage Network Attached Storage serves as a powerful file sharing combination. These features simplify the architecture, deployment, and scaling for SAN storage. IBM's new blade system will enable future I/O capabilities such as InfiniBand and networking upgrades.

"Today, customers need to do more with less money. IBM's new enterprise approach for blades is designed to help customers reduce their total cost of ownership," said Mark Shearer, vice president, IBM Blade Servers. "Our BladeCenter systems can integrate storage, applications, and networking, with IBM service and finance options available -- bringing together the complete strengths of our company."

In conjunction with today's announcement, IBM is also delivering its latest version of IBM Director. This systems management software provides customers with autonomic blade management including a single point of deployment and management for blade server architectures. IBM Director 4.1, which ships with the IBM eServer BladeCenter, also includes automated set-up and configuration wizards to easily deploy and maintain hundreds of blades and allows for mass configuration of chassis and blades. New functionality of IBM Director and its Remote Deployment Manager feature is designed to allow customers to reprovision blade servers in as little as minutes without human intervention.

In addition, IBM is working with industry leading technology companies to extend the functionality and application flexibility of the BladeCenter family. This work will provide customers with choices to create flexible and custom business solutions. Microsoft Corp. is working with IBM to support the Microsoft Exchange Platform.

"We're looking forward to Microsoft Exchange 2000 solutions on IBM eServer BladeCenter later this quarter," said Kevin McCuistion, group product manager for Exchange at Microsoft. "The BladeCenter architecture is designed to support enterprise-class Microsoft Exchange 2000 workloads with a design that can reduce hardware costs when customers scale out their Microsoft Exchange 2000 solution."

The IBM BladeServer will support Linux, Microsoft Windows and Novell Netware. IBM will begin shipping the Xeon-based servers in volume worldwide in November at the base price of $1,879. [5]