X Marks IBM's Virtual Future

Re-branded System x servers emphasize virtualization.

IBM has seen the future and it's deeply rooted in technology from its legacy of mainframes: virtualization.

Citing what it called an unprecedented demand for large scale x86-based virtualization technologies, Big Blue has announced the System x series of scaleable servers.

Essentially a re-branding and extension of IBM's xSeries, System x includes three high performance, Intel Xeon-based systems designed to better exploit virtualization technologies.

"IBM may be the only major x86 vendor that still does it's own chip sets, instead of using Intel's or third parties," Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT Research, told internetnews.com.

"They've incorporated the mainframe reliability and security features they've been promoting for years. One of the arguments they're making is that if a company is going to consolidate to a smaller number of servers, it becomes even more critical that those systems stay up and running. That's a good selling point for IBM's X3 architecture."

IBM said customer interest in virtualization is being driven by IT managers' desire to get more utilization out of their servers.

"We're moving away from straight hardware sales to more of a solution sale," Jay Bretzmann, director of IBM System x, told internetnews.com.

"Consolidation in x86 servers is somewhat different than mainframes, where target utilization is around 95 percent," noted Bretzmann. "In the x86 world, where it's more about things like Web serving and online transaction processing, customers are targeting 50 percent utilization with virtualization, which is way up from the eight to 12 percent, one app-per server mentality we've seen in the past."

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