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Big Blue Goes Small with New Intel Servers

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In keeping with the current theme of driving down the cost of servers for smaller businesses, IBM introduced two new servers that bring mainframe features to its Intel-based eServer xSeries line.

The xSeries 206 and xSeries 306, priced at $499 and $1,339,
were created to help IBM compete with rivals HP and Dell in the fierce battle for market share for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

The new machines may come cheap compared to their xSeries
predecessors, but they don’t skimp on features, according to Stuart McRae, manager of IBM eServer xSeries Products.

Designed with IBM’s X-Architecture for extending mainframe
functionality to xSeries, the executive said the machines include new simple-swap drives based on the red-hot Serial ATA interconnect, as well as management and data protection features typically not seen in entry-level boxes.

The single processor x206 tower is geared for small businesses that
need an inexpensive machine for file and print, e-mail and vertical business applications. Also a one-processor box, the x306 is a rack server designed for Web serving, firewall, VPN and load balancing.

The new machines are the latest addition to the IBM Express portfolio, the crux of IBM’s strategy to curry favor to the cost-conscious small business owner. They include hardware, software, services and financing. They could also help boost IBM’s server market share even higher.

While the new IBM machines would seem to be just another offering in
a long line of sub-$1,000 servers built to lure customers in the growing SMB sector, McRae said the feature functionality in the x206 and x306 offer
important distinctions from products such as HP’s ML110 and Dell’s

These servers, he alleged, are “souped up” desktop designs billed as
servers, noting that IBM believes that customers want added value to
inexpensive machines.

To wit, McRae said the x206 and x306 contain simple-swap reduces the
required to change a hard drive for customers who can’t afford to spend
thousands of dollars on hot-swap SCSI. For example, in
comparably entry-level servers from HP and Dell, customers who need to
a drive down for maintenance have to open the fixed hard drive for a

Simple swap allows customers to open a panel and slide a new
in, a feature patterned after high-end mainframes.

“This is a huge breakthrough in this space,” McRae told “You don’t see these functions elsewhere for
Tech has evolved to where SMB customers should not have to sacrifice
functions because of the price.”

The new machines, which will be available by the end of March, also
equipped with IBM ServerRAID 7e, an enterprise-grade security
and remote power control to manage servers from afar.

IBM has been doing quite well against its opponents in the server
according to the latest figures by research groups Gartner and IDC,
up market share in Intel, Unix and Linux arenas.

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