IBM has released a range of pre-packaged Linux clusters to be sold primarily to small and medium sized enterprises through IBM business partners.
The low-cost IBM eServer Cluster 1300 will come pre-loaded with Linux and clustering software, plus a choice of other software tested for Linux clusters.
"Customers have told us they don't want to spend all their time plugging their systems together," said Nick Davis, Big Blue's Linux solutions marketing manager for Europe, Middle East & Africa.
"They wanted them pre-packaged to deploy them faster. We are also offering a very powerful operating system [Linux] at a fraction of the cost of its Unix big brother," he added.
Systems will initially be sold in clusters of eight, 16, 32 and 64 nodes, which Davis said were the most popular sizes, although systems of over 1,000 nodes have been tested.
Available now is Red Hat Linux 7.1, but Davis said SuSe, Caldera and TurboLinux versions would be offered very soon.
Dan Kuznetsky, vice president of systems software research at analyst IDC, said: "The clustering is probably sound in order to be given the IBM stamp of approval and this announcement will make many companies more comfortable with the technology."
Along with the clustering software, some of the optional applications have been ported from IBM's AIX Unix environment.
They will be pre-installed when ordered and currently include: IBM WebSphere for e-commerce, DB2 database, Sendmail's complete range of Linux messaging and routing software, and Warp Solutions' Transaction Session Manager for the routing of websites to back-end databases.
Platform LSF workload management software improves cluster efficiency with monitoring and reporting tools, and software from Mission Critical Linux, SteelEye Technology and Polyserve will offer failover and high availability.
According to Kuznetsky, Microsoft is probably uncomfortable with the take-up of Linux. "My team has seen a growth in Linux, especially as a server operating system. In recent research on about 350 companies in both the demand and supply side, almost a third now had Linux installed. While Microsoft .Net or Windows 2000 was in their plans, Linux was too," he said.
The title 'eServer' follows the renumbering of IBM's ranges last year, with prefixes of i, x, and p.
The company is moving towards more streamlined manufacturing, using a universal line with its personality slotted in at the end.
"We've taken the IBM x300 and x342 ultra-slim servers that provide great density in a rack, and made it simple to install," Davis said. But he would not confirm whether all systems would eventually have the eServer title.
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