IBM's Netfinity server group has licensed its Active PCI software, which enables users to hot swap computer components, to Dell Computer, Hewlett-Packard and Reliance Computer.
Active PCI, which enables customers to expand or upgrade their servers in realtime to avoid system outages, runs under Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Novell's Netware.
Kimball Brown, an analyst at Dataquest, explained: "IBM has had this technology for about six to twelve months now. Reliance will put the technology in its chip set and provide the capability to Hewlett-Packard and Dell, who all use Reliance chip sets."
An IBM spokesperson explained: "With Hot Swap PCI, you can swap out a PCI card if the card fails. For example, if you have an Ethernet network card, you can remove the card and replace it with a new one while the system is on. It will automatically replace the functions of the old one."
He continued: "What no one has offered and what IBM is offering now is known as Hot Add, which enables you to add a new card and configure, but not reboot. For example, you can have three cards and as the number of users increase, you can put in a fourth one and reconfigure it. The same thing goes for storage. You can add a Raid adapter and configure without rebooting."
Both Hot Add and Hot Swap fall under the umbrella of Active PCI, he explained, which conforms to the PCI specification.
The spokesman added: "Other OEMs have provided Hot Swap PCI for about a year, but not with Hot Add. We are providing the Hot Add and Hot Swap licensing to other vendors such as Hewlett-Packard, Reliance and Dell. Right now, there are other companies under consideration."
Dataquest's Brown added that Big Blue would now be in a position to provide functionality that was previously only available for its $100,000 machines in its $10,000 boxes. "For example, IBM will add memory without having to bring down the power in the machines," he said.
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