SAN JOSE, Calif. – IBM announced PureSystem, the next major generation of its blade server design that packs servers, storage and networking into one box. The system is part of an industry-wide trend to integrate and simplify the management of the increasingly complex pieces of a data center.
The PureSystems chassis holds four modules that can be any mix of IBM Power or x86 processor boards or hard or solid-state disk drive modules. The processor boards will initially be based on IBM Power 7 or Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs.
Two network switching modules slot into the sides of the chassis and use technology IBM acquired with Blade Network Technologies in late 2010. PureSystem will support 10 and 40 Gbit/s Ethernet, Infiniband and Fibre Channel over Ethernet.
The chassis also includes a built-in systems management unit based on an Intel processor. It automates the process of allocating the systems processors and memory to specific tasks, discovers new modules as they are added and handles firmware upgrades.
Multiple chassis can be linked together with up to four chassis in a standard rack.
“We wanted to engineer a system designed to last for a decade with upgradeable networks, servers or storage in form factor replaceable modules,” said Ambuj Goyal, general manager of development and manufacturing in IBM’s server group.
Users can generate multiple virtual machines running different operating systems as needed to handle their applications. PureSystems supports VMWare and Microsoft HyperV hypervisors as well as Windows Server, Linux and IBM AIX operating systems.
“Nobody has really thought through in this way how you support a hypervisor or OS as a workload with security and virtualization built in and flexibility for how you configure the system,” Goyal said.
IBM is pitching its PureSystem to all its Intel server and mid-tier and lower Power server users as the most flexible and cost effective of its servers. The design started four years ago as Project Clean Slate, effectively re-thinking the concept of blade servers IBM and competitors such as Hewlett-Packard helped popularize.
Rodney Adkins, senior vice president of IBM's Systems and Technology Group, with the IBM PureSystem.
“We believe the [business computing] market is on the cusp of a fairly significant inflection,” said Matt Eastwood, general manager of the enterprise platform group at market watcher International Data Corp. Modular, converged systems like the new IBM design will “help IT shift the focus from an over provisioned infrastructure with poor utilization to one that scales along with business needs,” he said.
Cisco Systems made its debut in this area in early 2009
when it released its first Intel servers, bundled with its own networking switches. Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2009
was motivated by a similar effort to more closely integrate systems designs, in its case with its database and applications software.
Indeed, the last several years saw top computer makers go on a multi-billion dollar acquisition spree buying the server, storage, networking and software pieces for increasingly integrated systems. HP bought networking giant 3Com in 2009
, storage startup 3Par in 2010
and software analytics specialist Vertica Systems in 2011. For its part, Dell acquired storage specialist Compellent in 2010 and networking company Force10 last summer.
As all the players scale up, “IBM is also one of only two data center infrastructure players--Oracle being the other--capable of engaging with both infrastructure/operations teams and application developers,” said Eastwood of IDC.
“IBM stops at the middleware layer, leveraging third-party software applications, while Oracle wants to go further up the stack” to offer its own apps, he added.