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IBM steps up iSeries, pSeries overlap

IBM announced Tuesday the latest in a series improvements to its iSeries line, which analysts say is evidence of a trend towards an increased overlap with the pSeries.

IBM launched Tuesday a series of minor enhancements to its iSeries line that Big Blue is touting as proof of its ongoing commitment to improving the line's portfolio. But analysts point to this as evidence that the iSeries and the pSeries are overlapping more than ever.

The announcement included the release of a virtual partition manager and virtual I/O server, improved RAID5 protection, new disk mirroring packages targeted at small to midsized business (SMB) customers and enhancements to the DB2 UDB.

According to Gordon Haff, an analyst with Nashua, N.H.-based Illuminata, the enhancements are symptomatic of a push to deploy technology native to the pSeries into the iSeries line.

Over the last few years this trend has grown, as the two lines have shared more and more hardware, and was most evident when the iSeries went to the Power 5 processor last year.

The trend is most evident, according to Haff, in the areas of virtualization and partitioning capabilities.

"These are incremental enhancements. In terms of base-level capabilities, the iSeries is mirroring the pSeries at this point. They are pretty much based on the same hardware and firmware," Haff said. "In general the base capabilities of the iSeries are pretty much lined up with the pSeries."

Haff calls the differences between iSeries and pSeries servers these days as essentially just packaging. But sharing technology is a move he said makes sense for the iSeries, even though the iSeries is focused more on providing solutions.

"The delivery mechanism is different, but the underlying technology is essentially common between the iSeries and the pSeries," according to Haff.

The virtual partition manager is aimed at small iSeries users who want to run up to four Linux partitions while maintaining a cost-effective approach.

In general the base capabilities of the iSeries are pretty much lined up with the pSeries.
Gordon Haff
The virtual I/O server is seen as an alternative to running i5/OS Virtual I/O, and is for larger customers who want to share I/O resources between multiple AIX 5L or Linux partitions.

According to Ian Jarman, a product manager for the iSeries, the virtual partitioning enhancements are designed to provide scalability to users operating in a heterogeneous ecosystem.

"It's an extension of flexibility for people running multiple operating systems," Jarman said. "These virtual partitions add additional capabilities in that area."

IBM also plans to improve RAID5 protection with a new auxiliary write cache to help protect users against extended outages, which is part of a new mirroring approach that includes duplicate disks and controllers and doubles the number of disks and controllers.

On the SMB front, Big Blue has designed a new, lower-priced mirroring package. The all-inclusive solution includes a single I/O tower or drawer, one IOP and two disk controllers. IBM also announced that its V5R3 is currently in Common Criteria evaluation, an effort aimed at showing that V5R3 is in compliance with Evaluation Assurance Level 4.

SQL query engine enhancements to the DB2 UDB include materialized query tables instead of "trigger support" and new SQL optimization education.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Luke Meredith, News Writer

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