IBM, Motorola partner on telecom blades

Motorola on Wednesday announced plans to begin selling IBM's blade servers as part of a new initiative between the two companies aimed at stealing telecommunications business from rivals Hewlett Packard and Sun Microsystems, according to IBM.

Motorola will begin selling IBM's BladeCenter, BladeCenter T and xSeries rack-optimized servers as part of its Application-Enabling Platform, an integrated platform of hardware, software and services for telecommunications companies.

IBM, in turn, will adopt an upcoming middleware standard from Motorola, called the Service Availability Forum Application Interface Specification. IBM will use it in a new suite of telecommunications products, called the eServer Integrated Platform for Telecommunications, which is also to be announced on Wednesday.

The Integrated Platform for Telecommunications will be composed of BladeCenter servers running carrier-grade Linux and will include support from IBM Global Services, IBM said. An extended version of the product that will be combined with WebSphere, Tivoli and DB2 middleware will also be available, IBM said.

The IBM blades that Motorola will be selling can be used for both enterprise and telecommunications applications, IBM said.

"The BladeCenter T is NEBS (Network Equipment Building System) compliant and the chassis itself is specially hardened for telecom, aerospace and defense purposes. It will withstand things like earthquakes, fires, water damage" an IBM spokesman said.

To further bolster its telecom offerings, in August IBM plans to begin shipping a new NEBS-compliant rack server designed for telecom service providers called the xSeries 343. It will include two 2.4GHz Xeon processors, 12G bytes of storage and two 144G-byte Ultra 320 SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) hard drives. Pricing for the xSeries 343 was not available.

The BladeCenter T systems, which were first announced in March, are scheduled to begin shipping on June 25. The blade chassis for these systems will cost approximately US$7,800. The HS20 blade servers that fit into the BladeCenter T are priced starting at US$2,279 per dual-processor blade, IBM said.

BladeCenter T is expected to begin supporting IBM's JS20 Power PC-based blades in July or August, IBM said. Dual-processor JS20s are priced starting at US$2,699 per server.

The Integrated Platform for Telecommunications is available now, IBM said. Pricing for the platform was not announced.

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