IBM's revitalised iSeries server line-up will give customers the ability to "switch on" extra computing power as needed.
The changes to the iSeries, previously known as the AS/400, were designed to help offer more flexibility to medium enterprises, IBM product manager, Ian Jarman, said.
"You have to really react much more quickly in this e-business era," he said. "If your rollout takes six months, the problem has been that you can't change anything in that time. Now we have the ability to deploy different applications but service the dealerships remotely."
Four new iSeries models will launch this month - the 800, 810, 825 and 870. The series will enable business to run multiple applications on their servers, diverting resources where needed.
"The point is to get away from server farms with dedicated resources," Jarman said. "Our concept is to have one infrastructure that is flexible enough to move resources to multiple applications. With the iSeries, the application is separate from the hardware so we can deliver those resources."
The new iSeries models differ from previous AS400 servers in that IBM has adopted open standards, Jarman said. IBM is also backing grid standards by deploying the technologies in its operating system.
However the most interesting consequence of IBM's on-demand methodology is the introduction of capacity on demand. The iSeries will ship with active processors, but can also include additional processors that are available for use during peak periods.
"Before, customers had to pay for processing power all at once," Jarman said. "Now they can upgrade one processor at a time, and the real advantage is that they don't need to bring down the system to do so."
Customers can choose to turn the processors on for a set period such as two or three days on a pay-per-use basis. The system records the usage and a report is then sent to IBM, which in turn bills the customer. Pricing varies depending on the size of the server.
When the system is set up, users are allowed 16 days of extra capacity to trial the on demand functionality. Then the customer must weight the pros and cons of buying the processing power on a permanent basis - generally any more than 30-40 uses would warrant a more permanent arrangement, Jarman said. The system will run on Linux and OS400 systems, but can also be used in a Windows 2000 environment.
When you buy a server you establish a contract and then it is up to the customer how they wish to use it. This is the translation of our on demand vision into something the customer can use practically in their business."
The systems are available this week.