The era of general-purpose servers may finally be giving way to more specialized devices, as more and more enterprises find themselves in need of powerful business applications and number-crunching.
The trend began earlier in the decade with new hardware and software platforms optimized for industries like medicine and oil/gas exploration. Now it seems to be branching out into new data-centric activities like social networking and hosted services.
IBM took a major step in that direction this week with the launch of the iDataPlex server, geared toward Web 2.0 operations and high-performance computing environments. The typical setup involves multiple thousands of servers moving terabytes of data simultaneously, but IBM engineered the iDataPlex to foster "stateless computing," allowing servers resources to be pooled for improved cloud services.
That's not all it does, according to this write-up in The Register. We're talking nothing less than an entirely new class of architecture here, one that allows twice as many servers into a standard cabinet, boosting performance per square foot even while reducing power consumption some 40 percent. It also breaks the standard IBM approach of stuffing advanced technologies into low-end designs, often to the detriment of higher-level features.
Let's not overlook the innovative failover approach either, says Joe Clabby of Clabby Analytics. Rather than trying to reduce faults to a minimum, IBM opted for an architecture that allows components to be quickly and easily swapped out. De-emphasizing high availability, fault tolerance and other reliability tools reduces system cost and complexity.
The iDataPlex marks the latest move in IBM's burgeoning focus on Web 2.0 technologies. The server is designed for close collaboration with the recently acquired XIV NEXTRA storage architecture, with an eye toward rapidly expanding data center environments. The company has also launched the Blue Cloud initiative aimed at fostering solutions for commercial, governmental and educational interests.
The system is expected to hit the North American markets by June, with a global launch expected by the end of the year.