IBM Opens x440 Lab in Redmond

IBM Corp. is moving to build the market for high-end Windows-based server systems by opening a demonstration and testing lab near Microsoft's Redmond, Wash. campus.

The Customer Solutions Lab will focus on building and testing Windows-based software stacks atop IBM's eServer xSeries 440, a modular server system built from four-processor bricks that currently scales to eight-way SMP and is planned to scale to 16-way SMP in the next few months.

When IBM reaches 16-way scalability with its Intel Xeon MP processor-based x440 servers, it will be only the second company in the United States to offer a system with more than eight processors for running Windows 2000 Datacenter Server. Unisys Corp. has sold a 32-way system for several years. NEC Corp. will offer a 32-way Itanium-based system in the United States after Microsoft releases Windows .NET Server 2003, but U.S. sales are expected to be miniscule.

IBM's entry into the greater-than-eight-way space is expected to legitimize and expand the market for high-end Windows systems, especially in the 32-bit arena. Currently, Unisys system sales number in the hundreds. Opening the lab near Redmond signals that IBM, which sells many other operating systems and platforms, will put some marketing and sales emphasis on the high-end Windows solutions.

Microsoft, Intel, J.D. Edwards, SAP AG and SAS will work with IBM at the new lab to validate complete hardware and software solutions. The IBM initiative is similar to the Microsoft Datacenter Program, which requires hardware vendors to test and support all the hardware and software in a system up to the operating system. Working with the enterprise application providers, however, takes the program slightly beyond the Datacenter Program. Additionally, IBM will work on solutions using Windows 2000 Advanced Server in addition to Datacenter Server at its lab. The three software providers IBM mentioned in its announcement on Thursday have already put their applications through Microsoft's intensive application certification program for Windows 2000 Datacenter Server.

"The primary objective is to bring a comprehensive, solutions-based approach to high-end Intel processor-based servers that will allow customers to combine server hardware, operating systems, software applications and middleware -- such as IBM DB2 database software and Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition -- with systems integration, marketing and sales support," IBM notes in its announcement.

For more detail on Microsoft Windows Datacenter Server, see the ENT Special Report on Windows Datacenter Server:

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.


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