IBM announced it is dramatically enhancing its BladeCenter portfolio by bringing IBM’s best technology to bear to make blade solutions more open and easy to use. These innovations range from proven microprocessors and operating systems to a new, open I/O virtualization solution.
IBM BladeCenter Open Fabric Manager provides I/O virtualization and can help cut cost and complexity for clients through its open architecture. IBM BladeCenter Open Fabric Manager supports the complete range of Ethernet and Fibre Channel technologies from vendors like Blade Network Technologies, Brocade, Cisco, Emulex, NetXen and QLogic unlike competitive offerings that lock clients into proprietary, costly switches.

IBM BladeCenter Open Fabric’s use of open technologies and support for third party management solutions allows clients to take advantage of their existing switch technology and preserve investments. The core I/O virtualization technology is also unique in that it manages up to 100 chassis from a single management log-in at no additional cost and provides up to 80 percent savings over the competition.

“Customers who want to cut costs and complexity through I/O virtualization, consolidation and aggregation while realizing outstanding performance and investment benefits from converged server fabrics are fueling the demand for open tools such as IBM’s new Open Fabric Manager,” said Vikram Mehta, President and CEO of Blade Network Technologies. “We are pleased that our entire portfolio of Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Ethernet embedded blade switches works out of the box with IBM’s new Open Fabric Manager and enables businesses of every size and type to confidently adopt Ethernet technologies.”
“IBM’s vision to develop an open I/O virtualization solution has simplified the deployment of blade servers,” said Tom Buiocchi, vice president of marketing, Brocade. “Brocade Fibre Channel infrastructure products combined with IBM Open Fabric Manager enables blade server customers to virtualize I/O connectivity, reducing the cost of maintaining and deploying networked storage.”
“With IBM BladeCenter Open Fabric Manager, IBM has provided BladeCenter customers a powerful tool to virtualize I/O management while taking advantage of the intelligent network, management and advanced security capabilities of Cisco’s Ethernet and Fibre Channel switches,” said Ed Chapman, vice president of product management, Data Center for Cisco. “This open implementation is complementary with device management tools such as CiscoWorks and makes blade deployment easy and more inexpensive for clients.”

“With a significant number of IBM BladeCenter servers leveraging Emulex HBAs to connect to Fibre Channel SANs, the two companies’ ongoing collaboration provides our mutual customers with streamlined management for server blade and virtualization environments,” said Mike Smith, executive vice president, worldwide marketing, Emulex. “IBM’s new Open Fabric Manager is designed to operate seamlessly with Emulex HBAs and will give customers the ability to easily and cost-effectively deploy their virtualized blade server solutions across the data center.”

“IBM’s BladeCenter Open Fabric Manager brings novel virtualization capabilities to blade servers. We’ve tested it extensively and are confident it works seamlessly with NetXen technology,” said Chuck Tybur, vice president of worldwide sales for NetXen. “In combination with 10 Gigabit Ethernet this I/O, virtualization capability enhances the value proposition of blade computing in the enterprise datacenter.”

“IBM is providing a powerful management tool built on open standards that helps their customers virtualize I/O and facilitate consolidation in the data center,” said Roger Klein, vice president and general manager for the QLogic Host Solutions Group. “BladeCenter Open Fabric Manager running on QLogic storage networking infrastructure provides customers, seeking to virtualize their blade deployments, a scalable solution that reduces complexity and improves workload performance.”

The best of IBM on blades
Blade servers allow clients to pack more processors into the same power and cooling envelope, maximizing valuable floor space in the datacenter. IBM BladeCenter runs cooler to deliver greater reliability and, according to a new study conducted by the Edison Group (1), provides a 10 percent savings in energy costs over HP BladeSystem, saving clients approximately $12,000 per year in a deployment with 224 blade servers.
IBM announced earlier this month the first blade server based on the POWER6 processor. The new JS22 BladeCenter Express offers unprecedented technology, virtualization, performance and reliability in a blade form factor, helping lower maintenance costs and energy bills.

IBM is announcing a statement of direction that POWER6 processor-based blades will support i5/OS applications (2). i5/OS is IBM’s flagship operating system for small and medium sized clients. Combining the reliability and ease of use of i5/OS with the efficiency and integration of BladeCenter can provide mid-sized businesses a proven solution to run their entire business.
Many small and medium business clients have realized the benefits of combining i5/OS with BladeCenter. For example, TETRA Technologies Inc., a global oil and gas services company, worked with IBM Business Partner Sirius Computer Solutions ( to implement i5/OS on the IBM System i business computing platform connected to an IBM BladeCenter system with 28 blade servers.

“The reliability of i5/OS combined with the redundancy of BladeCenter ensures that our system is always available,” said Michael Lobin, vice president of Information Technology at TETRA Technologies. “This solution combines the best technology IBM has to offer. It’s the only integrated solution to address our requirements for growth, security and scalability.”

Pricing and Availability
IBM BladeCenter Open Fabric Manager is $1,499 and IBM BladeCenter Open Fabric Manager — Advanced Upgrade is $1,999 (3). Both products are planned to be available in December. Now thru year-end, IBM is running a promotion in the US that offers the product at a significant discount of $500 to $1000 per chassis less than the list price.