IBM Unveils Powerful Blade Server For Enterprise Workloads

AOL Time Warner Reduces Costs with IBM BladeCenter

Armonk, NY - 24 Sep 2002: IBM today introduced its thinnest server to date and one of the most powerful blade servers in the industry -- the IBM eServer BladeCenter based on Intel's fast Xeon processor. It is designed to help large businesses reduce their total cost of ownership by adding individual thin servers easily on demand as capacity needs increase.

This blade server category, which is projected to grow to nearly $3.7 billion by 2006, [1] is based on a new server design -- a server on a removable card that plugs into a chassis (or shared infrastructure) which plugs into a rack. IBM's eServer BladeCenter supports this unique "plug and play" design. The BladeCenter combines high performance computing resources and shared infrastructure to create a cost-effective, high density solution helping companies address infrastructure needs in a data center. This architecture enables the system to offer superior performance at twice the density of most of today's 1U (1.75") Intel Xeon processor based servers.

IBM BladeCenter with the first dual Xeon powered blade from a major server vendor and high availability features, can hold 84 blades per rack -- more than 36 blades per rack than the competing HP ProLiant BL20p system. [2] Additionally, IBM's base blade configured with one fast Intel Xeon processor, together with a disk drive, costs up to 23 percent less than a competing HP blade server configured with an Intel Pentium 3 processor and an Ultra160 SCSI disk . [3]

Many companies have already evaluated IBM's new modular server design including AOL Time Warner. The company was looking for a Linux solution that could help drive down infrastructure costs and simplify its systems management and used the IBM BladeCenter to power part of the AOL datacenter.

"You can only achieve significant cost savings with a disruptive technology, and we see IBM's blade offering as just that," said Dr. Norman Koo, Executive Director, AOL Time Warner. "We expect to deploy a considerable number of integrated enterprise blade solutions across AOL Time Warner in order to maintain our competitive edge and simplify our infrastructure. IBM BladeCenter looks like a good fit for several of our applications."

Built with technology from IBM's high-end server product line, the IBM BladeCenter is one of the only blade systems that offers extra resiliency by including the ability to purchase redundant hot-swap cooling, power and management modules as well as other automatic failover components, so there is no single point of failure. This high availability feature set is critical since users have hundreds or thousands of servers linked together.

The IBM system also supports integrated features such as optional fibre switches. The combination of BladeCenter with IBM TotalStorage FAStT storage can help make SAN infrastructures easy and less costly to manage. By using BladeCenter's integrated fibre switches to implement a fibre channel fabric, customers can save up to 25 percent in costs over a typical IBM rack-optimized server. [4] In addition, with Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, the BladeCenter and IBM TotalStorage Network Attached Storage serves as a powerful file sharing combination. These features simplify the architecture, deployment, and scaling for SAN storage. IBM's new blade system will enable future I/O capabilities such as InfiniBand and networking upgrades.

"Today, customers need to do more with less money. IBM's new enterprise approach for blades is designed to help customers reduce their total cost of ownership," said Mark Shearer, vice president, IBM Blade Servers. "Our BladeCenter systems can integrate storage, applications, and networking, with IBM service and finance options available -- bringing together the complete strengths of our company."

In conjunction with today's announcement, IBM is also delivering its latest version of IBM Director. This systems management software provides customers with autonomic blade management including a single point of deployment and management for blade server architectures. IBM Director 4.1, which ships with the IBM eServer BladeCenter, also includes automated set-up and configuration wizards to easily deploy and maintain hundreds of blades and allows for mass configuration of chassis and blades. New functionality of IBM Director and its Remote Deployment Manager feature is designed to allow customers to reprovision blade servers in as little as minutes without human intervention.

In addition, IBM is working with industry leading technology companies to extend the functionality and application flexibility of the BladeCenter family. This work will provide customers with choices to create flexible and custom business solutions. Microsoft Corp. is working with IBM to support the Microsoft Exchange Platform.

"We're looking forward to Microsoft Exchange 2000 solutions on IBM eServer BladeCenter later this quarter," said Kevin McCuistion, group product manager for Exchange at Microsoft. "The BladeCenter architecture is designed to support enterprise-class Microsoft Exchange 2000 workloads with a design that can reduce hardware costs when customers scale out their Microsoft Exchange 2000 solution."

The IBM BladeServer will support Linux, Microsoft Windows and Novell Netware. IBM will begin shipping the Xeon-based servers in volume worldwide in November at the base price of $1,879. [5]

About IBM
IBM is the world's largest information technology company, with 80 years of leadership in helping businesses innovate. Drawing on resources from across IBM and key Business Partners, IBM offers a wide range of services, solutions and technologies that enable customers, large and small, to take full advantage of the new era of e-business. For more information about IBM, visit

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The IBM eServer brand consists of the established IBM e-business logo with the following descriptive term "server" following it. The following are either trademarks or registered of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States or other countries or both: IBM, the IBM e-business logo. Intel and Intel Xeon are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation. Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds. Microsoft and Windows, are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. All others are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies. Statements concerning IBM's future development plans and schedules are made for planning purposes only, and are subject to change or withdrawal without notice.

[1] IDC, "Blade Market Update: The Competitive Landscape in 2002," September 2002

[2] IBM's BladeCenter can hold up to 84 blades per rack. The HP ProLiant BL20p holds up to 48 blades per rack. See for HP rack information.

[3] HP's ProLiant BL20p with a 1.4GHz Intel PentiumŪ III processor, 512MB of SDRAM memory, an Ultra160 SCSI disk drive, RAID 1 support and three 10/100 Ethernet connections costs $2,858. Prices are from as of September 19, 2002. An IBM eServer BladeCenter server with a 2.0GHz Intel Xeon processor, 512MB of DDR memory, a 40GB ATA disk drive, and two Gigabit Ethernet connections costs $2,178. Prices as of September 24, 2002.

[4] A 14 rack-optimized 1U server from IBM with redundant fabric, including two 16-port external FCA switches, 28 fibre channel optical cables, and 14 fibre channel adapter cards cost $89,240. And, a fully populated IBM BladeCenter with redundant fabric, including two 2 GB BladeCenter FCA switches, and 14 fibre channel adapter cards cost $64,000.

[5] Starting price may not include a hard drive, operating system or other features. Based on U.S. list price for minimum IBM eServerBladeCenter with a one-way 2GHz processor with 512MB memory, effective September 24, 2002. Price does not include tax or shipping and is subject to change without notice. Reseller prices may vary.