IBM Rebrands Servers, Takes Aim at E-Business

IBM Corp. last week announced it is rebranding its server line to focus on demand for hardware and software that does business on the Internet. Big Blue also introduced a 64-bit operating system and an Intel-based server line under its eServer brand.

The eServer xSeries 330, which IBM plans to announce this week, is a thin server featuring new technology the company says will change the way customers can deploy servers in crowded data centers. The xSeries 330 - part of the eServer family that would likely have been branded under NetFinity earlier - features a new cable-chaining design, which IBM says could eliminate 70% of connections and more than 80 meters of expensive cabling per rack.

IBM's new eServers are di- vided into four types: the top-of-the-line zSeries; the Unix-based pSeries; the high-performance, midmarket iSeries; and the lower-priced, Intel-based xSeries, IBM says. On its Web site, IBM lists one zSeries model, four iSeries models, two pSeries and nine xSeries.

The eServer zSeries 900 will ship Dec. 18, IBM says. Along with Linux, the servers also support Java, XML, HTTP and HTML, and can be packaged with IBM's WebSphere Application Server, the company adds.

Along with the announcement of its eServer line, IBM also launched z/OS, the company's new 64-bit operating system, which is compatible with the eServers.

"It is an entirely new product from the ground up," said Bill Zeitler, senior vice president and group executive for IBM's Server Group, during a teleconference.

The zSeries 900, which Zeitler said starts at about $750,000, supports greater than 2,500 million instructions per second on 16 processors. Its new server also can, when clustered, handle up to nine million transactions per day and possesses 24G bit/sec of I/O bandwidth, the firm says.

The zSeries 900 can scale from one to 16 processors and can handle up to 2,000 Secure Sockets Layer transactions per second. EServers let customers monitor systems remotely and through Web-based reports.

The xSeries 330, which features a 1-GHz chip in some configurations, will compete with offerings from Sun Microsystems Inc. and Compaq Computer Corp. IBM says its xSeries 330 can deliver three times the computing power for Web applications at one-third the price of a comparable Sun Netra server.

IBM will also outfit its new xSeries 330 with an Advanced Server Processor on the system board, which lets network professionals manage an entire rack of 42 servers from a single remote connection. The service processors are connected via a dedicated management link to monitor critical components of the server such as CPU, power supplies, fans and disk drive condition.

There may be one problem with IBM's eServer plan, however. Technauts Inc., a small business in North Carolina, has been using the eServer brand name to identify its suite of servers. The company said last week it will challenge IBM over use of the eServer name, which it says it has been using since 1998. IBM did not comment.

James Evans, a correspondent with the IDG News Service's Boston bureau, contributed to this story.

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