IBM Makes the Case for Unix Servers

Michael Vizard

Conventional wisdom has it that Unix servers are a dying breed. And yet quarter after quarter, IBM keeps putting up growth numbers for its Power Series servers.

There's no doubt that market consolidation forces are at work. IBM has proven to be particularly adept at convincing former Sun and Hewlett-Packard customers to jump ship to the company's Power Series servers.

But Tom Rosamilia, general manager for IBM Power and zSystems, says other IT factors are starting to play into the strengths of the Power Series. The first is the simple fact that many enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, business intelligence software and SQL databases are going through an upgrade cycle, as evidenced by results being posted by Oracle, SAP and others. While a fair number of these applications may be migrating to the latest generation of Intel servers, the fact remains that many owners of these performance-hungry applications simply want to get the fastest system they can afford.

And as Rosamilia notes, the Power Series is now fairly price-competitive with any comparable Intel-class system out there, especially after IBM introduced a new low-end series.

Another factor at work, says Rosamilia, is virtualization. IT organizations are quickly discovering that virtual machines are memory hungry. The simple fact of the matter is that Power Series servers can run more virtual machines per physical server than rival Intel-class machines.

And finally, with concerns over power consumption growing in the data center, Rosamilia says that many customers are starting to consolidate workload on high-performance Power Series systems in order to reduce the total cost of ownership of their data center.

Like the growth seen in IBM's mainframe series, the number of Unix servers being sold might not be able to keep pace with the total number of Intel-class servers. But as application workloads continue to get consolidated on fewer physical servers, Rosamilia says he is confident that more customers are going to start appreciating the value of pSeries servers that continue to prove their worth in an era where it's not about how many boxes you sell, but rather how many application workloads you can actually run.

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