IBM Server Line Redrawn
IBM press release]
3, 2000 - IBM announced its new server product line, the IBM eServer.
IBM's existing server and mainframe product lines (previously known as
S/390, RS/6000, AS/400, and Netfinity) will now carry the eServer name
and logo, starting with the first shipments, expected sometime this quarter.
addition to the renaming, IBM has announced new features, including:
upgrade on demand (CUoD), similar to Sun's feature of "turning on" existing
processors without a physical upgrade
partitioning (LPAR) across the entire eServer product set
- All servers
will be Linux enabled
product line will be separated into four series:
- mainframes (although IBM no longer uses that term, apparently)
On the surface, this looks like the standard product line revamping/renaming
that almost every company goes through from time to time. There were really
no earth-shattering new products nor special features (with the possible
exception of "Capacity Upgrade on Demand") announced - just a restating
of features IBM believes are advantageous to customers. From this perspective,
the announcement is relatively uninteresting.
believe the biggest impact of the product line renaming is related to
Linux. For more than six months, IBM has been talking about having enterprise-wide
Linux offerings. By replacing the various product lines with the "eServer"
name, this will help strengthen the perception of a unified product structure,
which ties into the Linux strategy. Although we previously felt Dell had
made a bigger across-the-board commitment to Linux, we now believe IBM
has taken that lead among the major computer manufacturers. In the server
space, this will be a good thing for IBM. In the desktop space, the Linux
market is not there yet, but IBM will be well-positioned when and if Linux
becomes a serious desktop presence.
is one part of this strategy we find a tad bothersome: for the second
time in a month, IBM has created an all-encompassing product line where
the customer has to remember which letter-series (e.g., "zSeries" for
mainframes). In September, the PC product line adopted the name NetVista
across all products, with only modest naming changes to distinguish between
the markets served. (See TEC news analysis IBM
PC Line Redrawn.) So, as a service to our readers, here are the translations
between new and old product lines:
comment: we would have suggested that Big Blue give the lines letters
which server as a mnemonic for the older names, e.g., aSeries for the
former AS/400, iSeries for Intel-based Netfinity, sSeries for the S/390,
rSeries for the RS/6000. But then again, they didn't ask our opinion.)
is one other logistical issue that may bedevil IBM's plans. Apparently,
the term "eServer" has already been trademarked by Technauts, Inc. of
Morrisville, SC. IBM says theirs is different from Technauts; Technauts
hints that they're considering legal action. Shown below are the two logos
- we leave it to you decide how similar they are.
For most users, the key benefit of this announcement is the enterprise-wide
Linux commitment. Now that Linux has approximately 25% of the server market
shipments, having a full product line offering for it will become more
important. Naturally, customers who are committed to Windows (or Solaris
or Netware) "first, last, and always" will have no use for this strength.
However, the rest of the server world should pay attention to IBM's Linux
products, and consider them seriously. Linux combined with IBM's strong
reputation for quality and reliability will provide an alluring message
for a number of customers.