IBM has today confirmed that it is considering repositioning its entire server line in a wide ranging initiative that analysts said would decide which platforms and architectures the company will invest in.
An IBM spokesperson confirmed that a review - codenamed Mach 1 - is underway and that IBM would consider the positioning of its full range of servers, including the Netfinity, OS/400, RS/6000 and S/390 mainframes.
Big Blue declined to give any further details, but a statement said: "IBM servers are a key focal point of the ebusiness infrastructure. We are considering a variety of things that will position IBM and our customers to be prepared to take advantage of the next generation of ebusiness."
Phil Payne, an independent consultant at Isham Research, said the number of platforms IBM is supporting is getting out of control prompting it to decide which product lines its future investment programme will focus on.
"IBM has a vision that all its proprietary platforms should share the same technology. In the long term, it wants convergence," he said.
Payne added that OS/2 had been a failure and the future health of other platforms was now open to question, although he stressed that it was not in IBM's nature to drop product lines and thereby alienate customers.
"The S/390 does not have an entry level system that can take on new users, so it's open to question what its life expectancy is. Also, I don't see what the future of a proprietary Unix system like Monterey is when IBM is pushing vigorously to go into Linux," he said.
IBM had a platform review in November and now seems to have started an even more wide ranging examination which may also include software, added Payne.
Mark Lillycrop, research director at analysts Xephon, said IBM has long-standing problems involving the number of product lines it supports and the image of its S/390 and AS/400 lines.
"For many years IBM has been supplying numerous server architectures and it wants to move customers away from thinking about the distinctions between server lines," said Lillycrop.
"Many of the servers share the same components and the distinctions are at the brand level. However, there are still strong feelings amongst IBM and its customer base," he added.
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