The new system, which will ship in September or October, includes servers, storage, and networking blades. The blades will be based on Intel Xeon DP, Intel Itanium, or IBM Power processors.
Software will help administrators manage the thin plug-in blades for E-mail and enterprise applications, such as those from SAP or Siebel Systems Inc. Multiple applications (for Windows and Linux) can reside on a single rack in the data center. IBM Director management software will automatically move information online or offline. Administrators can set blade policies to make the system somewhat self-managing and self-healing--for example, to cope with upgrades or defective drives.
Illuminata analyst Jonathan Eunice thinks the new storage could drastically reduce costs. IBM is freeing storage from proprietary microcode, embedded one-off components, and specialized tools and moving it to Linux, blades, and commodity components, he says. That, however, will take longer than the blade servers. "There is a next generation of the high-end Enterprise Storage Server based much more around a high-end Unix server architecture, but we might not see it until 2004," Eunice says. "They're going to rebuild the whole product line."