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IBM, SAP software alternative for some PeopleSoft, JDE customers

IBM's new offering allows SAP resources to be virtualized on IBM eServers running the Power chip. Some analysts say the software could be attractive to PeopleSoft customers leery of a future with Oracle.

IBM is rolling out software for mySAP Business Suite users this week designed to enable customers running SAP to manage the computing resources of various IBM systems.

Basically, this is allowing SAP resources to be virtualized on the IBM systems framework, and that does offer some significant performance benefits.
Charles King
principal analystPund-IT Research

The software package, called Dynamic Infrastructure, is aimed at companies running SAP on complex IBM infrastructures. Adding support to SAP's adaptive computing architecture, the software allows customers to automate the process of managing the computing demand of IBM systems running SAP applications.

Dynamic Infrastructure is available for IBM eServer zSeries, xSeries, pSeries and BladeCenter platforms, as well as IBM TotalStorage systems. It runs on IBM's Power5, Power4, zSeries microprocessors and Intel architecture microprocessors. IBM said it plans to roll out support for iSeries customers with eServer i5 boxes running on Linux later this year.

SAP NetWeaver, technology embedded into mySAP and at the heart of SAP's adaptive computing architecture, simplifies the integration of SAP software with products from hardware vendors, such as blade servers and virtual servers. The adaptive computing infrastructure adjusts computing demand and allows blade servers to assign tasks dynamically, so that if one blade is nearing overload, it will automatically assign tasks to another blade.

While the software is aimed at existing IBM and SAP customers, some analysts said the technology could be particularly attractive among significant numbers of PeopleSoft clients who use the iSeries -- by making it easier for users to make the switch to SAP. Many customers are mulling over whether to stick with Oracle Corp., which completed its merger with PeopleSoft last week.

By better allocating hardware resources, companies will eventually be able to invest in other projects, said Charles King, a principal analyst for Pund-IT Research, in Hayward, Calif.

"It's aimed at higher-end SAP users who want to achieve a higher level of system flexibility and performance, King said. "Basically, this is allowing SAP resources to be virtualized on the IBM systems framework, and that does offer some significant performance benefits."

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The process of setting up an adaptive computing environment has been simplified with the new IBM software, but it still remains a hurdle for many companies, said Werner Ederer, an IBM program manager of utility computing, who serves as the lead developer of the technology. To use the new software, companies must undergo a lengthy install process of a base management server and map the entire IT environment.

"Since the whole process of setting up a dynamic computing environment is long running, error prone and cumbersome, most customers don't share resources," Ederer said. "We're changing that, otherwise, they end up with a huge number of servers that is hard to manage."

Once installed, the complex environments are much easier to maintain, Ederer said. IT staff can automatically implement up to 10 workflow steps to install mySAP Business Suite on IBM servers. Computing resources can be added when needed, rather than manually loading SAP software and an operating system on servers, he added.

"This technology reaches into the bowels of a system and automates processes that were once very complex and labor intensive," Ederer said.

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