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IBM previews new version of i5/OS for System i

IBM's new i5/OS, the System i operating system, has new security and virtualization capabilities, and features can be purchased a la carte.

IBM Corp. is previewing version 6 of i5/OS, System i's operating system, which is due out next year and will allow larger clients to purchase system features a la carte.

Elaine Lennox, marketing head for IBM System i, also detailed the first IBM System i machine that will run on the Power6 processor: the IBM System i5 570. The server should be available in September, starting at $165,000.

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This news piggybacks on an IBM announcement last week that IBM is dividing the System i platform into two business divisions: one geared toward high-end and one toward low-end models.

[Customers] don't want to pay for pieces that they don't need.
Elaine Lennox,
IBM System i

The highlight of version 6, release 1 (V6R1) of i5/OS is that it enables larger clients (those running boxes like the IBM System i5 570 and i5 595) to pay for only those features that they want. Lennox said that a company, for example, can buy as much 5250 interactive capacity on i5/OS as it wants and make adjustments later; if an organization's needs change, capacity and prices can change along with them.

"We used to always hear feedback from clients about an 'interactive tax,'" Lennox said. "They don't want to pay for pieces that they don't need."

But smaller businesses like those running i5/OS on an i5 515 or i5 525 will get a bundled version of the operating system without a la carte features. IBM's justification for the limitation: Companies running these lower-end boxes tend to be smaller and need more simplicity.

"It's packaged, and you don't have as many options," Lennox said. "It's bundled up and simpler to buy."

But V6R1 isn't just a packaging exercise. Other features of the release include the following:

  • The encryption feature for data on disk that gets backed up to tape.
  • A virtualization feature that allows one i5/OS virtual partition to host storage for another. IBM said this functionality eliminates the need for individual i5/OS partitions to have their own storage hardware. Craig Johnson, a product manager for IBM's newly formed Power Systems unit, said that the operating system is not yet able to move data from a virtual partition to one on a separate physical box, a capability the IBM System p folks announced earlier this year; and
  • Inclusion of an integrated Web application server for better deployment of Java applications on System i.

Lennox added that the operating system will continue to be called i5/OS. Previously, there was talk that IBM would change the name to i6/OS to reflect the new Power6 chip, but Lennox said that System i customers have told IBM that they've had enough name changes.

The i5 570 box will deliver up to twice the application performance and will be configurable for up to a 16-way (i.e., 16-processor) server, Lennox reported. Hypothetically, that allows a user with an i5 570 to run a theoretical maximum of 160 virtual partitions simultaneously.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail Mark Fontecchio, News Writer.

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