IBM teams with Microsoft and Intel at new lab

IBM Corp. has teamed with Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp. to create a new facility where customers can test their applications on IBM xSeries servers, the companies announced Thursday.

The new testing center will be located at IBM's Kirkland, Washington facility, which lies in close proximity to offices of Intel and Microsoft. The vendors will have customers come in to test out how well tasks such as server consolidation can be accomplished on IBM's xSeries Intel-based servers running Microsoft's Windows operating systems. The trio will also bring in independent software vendors (ISVs) to help with the free testing process in the hopes that users will purchase more gear after having a hands-on experience with the technology, said Brian Sanders, manager of IBM eServer xSeries.

"This lab's primary focus is to allow customers to come in and work with (IBM's xSeries servers) and really work on doing proof-of-concept solutions," Sanders said. "This gives customers a great leg up by providing them with labs staffed with extremely technical people."

IBM, based in Armonk, New York, has worked to bring some high-end technology previously found only in mainframes down to its Intel-based servers, which are usually considered to be part of the lower end, commodity hardware space. IBM uses what it calls its mainframe-like Enterprise X-Architecture (EXA) chipset to improve the reliability and performance of Intel servers.

Customers will have access to a wide range of IBM xSeries servers from small one- and two-processor systems up to a 16-processor server IBM plans to ship later this year. Customers will likely also get their hands on IBM's servers built with Intel's 64-bit Itanium 2 processor. IBM plans to ship the x450 later year, which will hold between 4 and 8 Itanium 2 chips.

IBM's sales force can nominate customers for visiting the facility and taking part in the testing process. The company expects to have enough systems, space and engineers to help out 3 to 4 customers at a time, Sanders said.

Some of the ISVs that will also be present at the Kirkland lab include J.D. Edwards & Co., SAP AG and SAS Institute Inc.

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