IBM no doubt realizes that virtualization is going to continue eating into server sales for the foreseeable future. But you have to give the company credit for accepting the inevitable and tailoring its business plans to the new enterprise.
The latest move comes in the form of the x3950 M2 server, billed as "virtualization-ready" by virtue of an embedded hypervisor and enhanced memory. The box is the first to sport the X4 chipset, the newest generation of modules based on the Intel's quad-core Xeons.
IBM aims to allow enterprise users to set up virtual partitions right out of the box. To allow that, the M2 has an internal USB interface and 4 GB of Flash storage to accommodate on-chip virtualization software. It also has twice the memory-slot capacity to boost the amount of memory per chassis, which should allow for the expanded workloads generated by multiple virtual environments.
So far, IBM's strategy seems to be paying off. By offering clients the means to boost performance in commodity hardware, rather than simply selling new boxes, the company is developing a brand loyalty that should serve it well as the relationship between hardware and software continues to evolve.