IBM to Offer Prepackaged Linux Clustering

SAN FRANCISCO (08/14/2000) - IBM Corp. Tuesday will take the wraps off its first prepackaged Linux cluster offering, a set of hardware and software that will be aimed at businesses running technical and scientific applications, as well as fast-growing dot-coms in need of a scalable Web server.

The IBM Solution Series for Linux Clusters is built around IBM's Netfinity servers and will support versions of Linux from Caldera Systems Inc., Red Hat Inc., SuSE Linux AG and Turbo Linux Inc., IBM said. The package also includes software from IBM and other vendors, and a services component from IBM Global Services to help customers get up and running with the technology.

Typical customers will be "fairly aggressive implementers of technology who are willing to step out into new computing arenas," said Dave Turek, vice president in IBM's Deep Computing division. "We'd expect this is not a novice user, but someone with some experience with Linux, Microsoft and Intel-based servers."

Because Linux is still new as a clustering platform, Big Blue doesn't expect the open-source operating system to account for a measurable chunk out of its sales from day one. For that reason, the company isn't too concerned about Linux cluster solutions cannibalizing sales of its higher-end RS/6000 servers, Turek said.

However, interest in Linux at the corporate level is growing faster than many people realize, and it's hard to predict how demand for the platform will shape up, Turek said.

"Our customers, much like we are, are putting their toes in the water in the Linux world. This is a situation of lead, follow or get out of the way. I'm somewhere between lead and follow," Turek said. "We don't all understand at this point what the full ramifications (of Linux) are."

The IBM Linux clusters are available immediately in the U.S. in configurations of 8, 16, 32 and 64 nodes, and pricing starts at US$115,000. That pricepoint gives Linux clusters a cost advantage over other platforms, Turek said, although whether or not Linux offers a performance advantage depends on what types of applications users are running.

As well as a collection of rack-optimized Intel-based Netfinity servers, the IBM Solution Series for Linux Clusters includes Myricom Inc.'s Myrinet cluster interconnections, Extreme Networks Inc.'s Ethernet switches, Equinox Systems Inc.'s terminal servers, and supporting software applications. The clustering offering also includes consulting services from IBM Global Services and leasing options from IBM Global Financing.

IBM has already installed a handful of large-scale Linux clusters this year, including the 256-node Netfinity server LosLobos system at the University of New Mexico.

Software used to build Linux clusters is also available from a host of ISVs (independent software vendors), including Mission Critical Linux Inc., Linux NetworX Inc. and Veritas Software Corp.

IBM, based in Armonk, New York, can be reached at +1-914-765-1900 or at http://www.ibm.com/.

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