IBM Targets Sun Stronghold with Linux-Based Solutions for Telecommunications Industry

IBM eServer System Outperforms Sun UNIX System At Less Cost; New Linux Service Provider Lab Offers World-Class Testing Capabilities

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ARMONK, New York - 26 Mar 2002: Capitalizing on the service provider industry's move to Linux-based solutions, IBM today introduced a new Intel-based telecommunications server that is optimized to run carrier-grade Linux and offers 58 percent better performance than a competing Sun Microsystems UNIX server in a key industry benchmark [1]. A typical configuration of the new IBM eServer, which has a list price that is 40 percent less than a Sun Netra 20 server [2], represents IBM's bid for leadership of the $4.5 billion market segment for telecommunications servers [3], where Sun gets a significant portion of its total revenue.

The new IBM eServer can help network equipment providers and solution providers reduce the time and costs associated with developing and deploying Next Generation Network applications for critical workloads such as mobile network infrastructures, softswitches for voice over IP (VoIP) and revenue generating network services.

To accelerate Linux adoption in the telecommunications market segment, the company also announced the creation of the first-of-its-kind Linux Service Provider Lab (LSPL) in Oregon, where telecom network application providers can test and validate Next Generation Network Linux solutions.

"Today's announcement represents the most recent step in our efforts to make technology infrastructures more open and interoperable. As service providers update their infrastructure, more and more are deciding to use Linux," said Mike Hill, general manager, IBM Global Telecommunications Industry. "Open platforms allow these customers to have a greater range of equipment suppliers -- helping improve the competitive environment and reduce operating costs."

Unleashing new flexible, affordable servers
The new Intel-based telecommunications server performed 58 percent better than a competing Sun Netra 20 server in the SPECWeb99 benchmark, which measures web-serving performance [4]. Web serving is an increasingly important application for service providers as customers implement their e-business infrastructure.

The IBM eServer x343 meets the rigid Network Equipment Building System (NEBS) Level 3 Standards -- the most stringent level of disaster resistant certification in the telecommunications industry. It also includes specialized features such as an external alarm panel that provides surveillance of system outages and redundant DC power supplies. The server is designed to stand up to harsh environments including earthquakes, high temperatures and high humidity, making it an excellent choice for telecommunications central office operations.

A typical configuration of an IBM eServer x343 starts at about $9,999, which is 40 percent less than a competing Sun server [5], and offers customers a unique sub 20" chassis design that is specially tailored to fit in SP central offices and switching centers.

Expanding IBM's eServer xSeries telecommunications portfolio, the IBM eServer x343 is also joined with the IBM eServer x330 NEBS compliant server and the IBM eServer x300 server, both of which are designed for converged voice and data networking environments.

IBM is among the first server vendors using Intel platforms to implement Linux in the telecommunications industry. The IBM Linux Technology Center is working with the open source community to deliver carrier grade Linux, a "hardened" version of Linux, with new features. Carrier grade Linux will offer customers enhanced functionality in the areas of performance, reliability, availability and serviceability.

Opening of Linux Service Provider Lab (LSPL)
The new Linux Service Provider Lab will provide a next-generation Internet Protocol network infrastructure environment for testing of applications including softswitch, wireless infrastructure applications, unified messaging and network services. The lab, which is scheduled to open at the end of the month, will include equipment such as the new IBM eServer x343 as well as the IBM eServer x330 NEBS-compliant server. Application developers will be able to test and validate Linux applications on IBM eServer systems in an Internet Protocol network environment, which can result in faster delivery of next generation solutions for service providers. [Reporters: see additional fact sheet]

Customers select flexible solution
More than 50 service providers and their suppliers have chosen IBM Linux-based solutions. Future Cellular, Ohio's largest wireless company, becomes the latest emerging communications provider to deploy an IBM Linux-based solution. Future Cellular joins other IBM service provider customers such as Cambia Networks and iMoble who are now using Linux to help save operating systems licensing fees, consolidate workloads and reduce infrastructure costs with the help of IBM. IBM's LSPL provides a critical component for service providers developing new network based applications.

Future Cellular will use IBM Linux-based solutions in its sales kiosks to help better control inventory and manage comprehensive customer and financial data. Currently, the company has 33 kiosks throughout the state that rely on IBM's DB2 database software for Linux running on IBM eServer xSeries systems to track sales. The company is looking to implement a nationwide kiosk network.

"In the past, we managed our kiosk operations through field managers who traveled from kiosk to kiosk, keeping track of inventory and financial results using manual, paper-based reporting," said Jim Kirwan, senior vice president and chief operating officer, Future Cellular. "With the installation of IBM Linux-based solutions, we have seen an increase in cell phone service sales and efficiency."

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