Channel to Benefit from IBM-Rackable Systems Deal

In a move that promises to benefit channel partners involved in providing portable data-center solutions,IBM and Rackable Systems have announced a joint sales agreement. It allows Rackable Systems to offer IBM's BladeCenter systems for installation inside of Rackable's ICE Cube modular data centers.

In a move that promises to help channel partners, IBM and Rackable Systems have announced a joint sales agreement that allows Rackable Systems to offer IBM's BladeCenter systems for installation inside of Rackable's ICE Cube modular data centers.

The IBM systems, BladeCenter T and HT, are available immediately via Rackable Systems and its channel partners.

The ICE Cube is a standard-size shipping container with all of the racks for an ultradense data center installed inside. Customers can fill it with Rackable's line of 1U to 9U racks or they can add a BladeCenter chassis to use IBM blades.

Such data centers allow large companies to gain additional computing power for such projects as disaster recovery, Web 2.0 applications and other high-performance projects. The market for portable data centers still is relatively undeveloped, but the fact that such channel vendors as IBM, Sun Microsystems and Hewlett Packard have developed solutions for it has bolstered the potential opportunity for channel partners.

The Rackable-IBM deal involves the use of IBM BladeCenter T or HT systems, which are NEBS-3/ETSI-compliant, meaning they’re certified for use in telecommunications environments and carrier facilities.

Pund-IT Principle Analyst Charles King said it's a win for both companies. "It gives Rackable a way to jump into the blade solution space without having to spend any money developing it themselves," he said, adding that developing the blades is an expensive process. "And it allows IBM to sell BladeCenter as an OEM product, not that Rackable will put its logo on it."

Tony Carrozza, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Rackable, said adding the BladeCenter products to the its modular data center "puts us in a position to offer customers a broader set of solutions, from cloud computing to enterprise apps, which is what the BladeCenter allows us to do going forward."

Blades from IBM are inherently different from a Rackable  rack-mounted system in that IBM blades are for more general-purpose computing, whereas Rackable systems are meant for  ultradense computing projects.

"We don't have what you would consider to be a true blade product," Carrozza said. "The BladeCenter is a true blade product with a self-contained fabric, management software, redundancy and resiliency in it." He added besides rack servers Rackable typically offers scale-out servers. "It's blade-like but doesn't have its own switching fabric built into the chassis," he said.

Rackable's systems are based on Intel and AMD chips, whereas IBM blades also offer the option of IBM's POWER5 and POWER6 processors.

The ICE Cube is available in 20- or 40-foot container sizes and can hold up to 1,344 dual-socket blades with quad-core Intel Xeons or 672 quad socket, dual-core AMD Opteron blades.

The BladeCenter chassis slots right into a Rackable ICE Cube, so long as you remember to remove the wheels that are on the chassis. It then uses the ICE Cube power and cooling system for operation and management.

Rackable also announced it's joining Blade.org, the industry consortium created in 2004 by IBM and Intel that's trying to create open standards for blade servers. Up to now, all of the blades from Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Sun have used their own design standards, meaning you can't install a Sun blade in an HP chassis, for example.

IBM has been an exception to that rule, opening its blades up and making the specs public. The first company to offer a third-party product is Themis, which offers a Sun UltraSPARC-based blade that works in a BladeCenter chassis.

"Openness has been a key part of our strategy for blades from day one," said Tim Dougherty, director of BladeCenter strategy at IBM. "We felt it's the right thing to do to expand the blade market."

(This article was adapted from Internetnews.com.)

TAGS: IBM,Dell,HP,blade systems,channel partners

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