IBM Adds Analytics, Cloud And Virtualisation Products

IBM’s rollout of 55 new and enhanced server and storage products target massive data handling

IBM is rolling out a host of preconfigured systems that offer the tech giant’s analytics software on mainframe and Power-chip-based servers.

These new Smart Analytics System servers are among a wide-ranging release of products – including storage offerings – that are aimed at helping businesses make better use of the massive amounts of data they are collecting, according to IBM officials. The company has a vision of how knowledge and data can be shared better on a global basis, but it also believes that cannot happen with traditional IT approaches without risking greater sprawl and slower customer responsiveness, according to an IBM spokesperson.

The latest products – more than 55 new and upgraded server and storage technologies, in all – are aimed at addressing those issues, the spokesperson said.

Workload-specific software moves

These analytics systems come at a time when top-tier OEMs are looking at ways of integrating workload-specific software onto servers, giving enterprises powerful and easy-to-deploy offerings. Oracle officials have been vocal proponents of this approach, bundling their software onto Sparc and x86 systems from the hardware business they inherited when the software giant bought Sun Microsystems last year.

Oracle over the past two years has introduced its Exadata Database Machine, a preconfigured data warehousing system the combines Oracle’s software with Sun server and storage technology, and the Exalogic Elastic Compute Cloud, a cloud-in-a-box solution that includes Oracle’s virtual machine software and other applications in hardware that runs on either x86 or SPARC chips.

Most recently, Oracle earlier this month unveiled its Exalytics system, which when it rolls out next year will include the company’s parallelised TimesTen relational online transaction processing (OLTP) and Essbase parallel online analytical processing databases running on a Sun Fire system powered by Intel Xeon E7 chips.

Analytics has been a focal point at IBM over the past several years as the company has pushed its Smarter Planet initiative, which calls for enabling organisations to more quickly and easily analyse the huge amounts of data they are generating and to leverage it for better business results. The Smarter Planet push appears to be gaining traction: In the third quarter, Smarter Planet revenue for IBM grew 50 percent over the same period last year, according to the company. The Smart Analytic Systems fall in line with that strategy.

Mainframe muscle

IBM’s Smart Analytics System 9700 and 9710 are zEnterprise mainframe systems that run either Red Hat or Suse Linux and offer mainframe-based data warehouse and business intelligence (BI) software. They also come at an entry-level price, according to IBM, though the vendor was not specific on the pricing.

In addition, IBM unveiled the Smart Analytics System 7710, based on Big Blue’s Power7 chips, and x86-based Smart Analytics System 5710. Botha are all-in-one offerings for business analytics and reporting services that cost less than previous integrated IBM offerings, the company said. The integrated solutions offering deployment times of days rather than months and offer such capabilities as BI reporting, analysis, dashboards, data mining and text analytics.

IBM also is rolling out the DB2 Analytics Accelerator, which integrates Big Blue’s Netezza data warehouse appliance into IBM’s zEnterprise mainframe. Combining the two merges OLTP systems with analytics to create a single business analytics platform, according to company officials. The appliance plugs into the DB2 for z/OS database on zEnterprise 196 or 114 server, and the DB2 database

The analytics appliance plugs into IBM zEnterprise 196 enterprise server, and the accelerator connects to the DB2 database as transactions are processed in the cloud. The accelerator incorporates technology from Netezza, a data analytics provider acquired by IBM last year for $1.7 billion.

The rollouts additionally include the Storwize V7000 Unified midrange disk storage system and IBM System Storage DS8000 Release 6.2, an enterprise-level disk system. Both are designed to help businesses more efficiently store, manage and analyse data. IBM also is enhancing the XIV Storage System Gen3, which was unveiled in July to help improve performance for demanding workloads. Now the system supports 3 terabyte disk drives, increasing capacity by 50 percent and bringing usable capacity to up to 243TB per rack.

Security and compliance

IBM is also rolling out new products to automate security and compliance to help reduce IT sprawl in virtualised environments. PowerSC offers automated tools for virtualised environments on Power systems running PowerVM, enabling users to automatically apply security profiles and generate reports about compliance. IBM’s z/VM 6.2 lets use cluster together up to four instances of z/VM and manage them as a single z/VM system. IBM also upgraded its Systems Director v6.3 management software.

For virtualised and cloud computing environments, IBM is offering SmartCloud Entry, which company officials called the building blocks for enabling organisations to build scalable private clouds on virtualised Power and x86-based System x hardware. Similarly, zEnterprise Starter Edition for Cloud gives users an entry-level infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) model for running Linux on System z mainframes with Tivoli Provisioning Manager. IBM officials called it a cloud-in-a-box offering.

The BladeCenter Foundation for Cloud is a converged cloud computing platform that offers server, storage, networking and management software to enable users to quickly create a scalable x86-based virtualisation environment. The offering comes in three sizes designed to fit various budgets. The offering echoes what other OEMs are doing, such as Cisco Systems with its Unified Computing System, or UCS, which offers compute, storage, networking and management in a single unit.