IBM Fires Back At Cisco With $2 Billion Smart Server Project

IBM Steve Mills brain capIBM VP Steve Mills’ team put human know-how into servers

Photo: IBM/UMD

IBM is one-upping Cisco with new PureSystems servers introduced today.Actually, to call these things servers isn’t fair to them.

They are integrated systems that include the server, storage, and networking in one box. Cisco introduced this game-changing concept, the Unified Computing System in 2009. It was laughed at by competitors at the time because no one believed that Cisco could pull off a server. (Some networking experts still pooh-pooh UCS, claiming it locks users in to using only Cisco compatible network gear.)

But UCS has been a game changer in the data centre. Server vendors have been chasing after the idea ever since.

IBM now may be the one to beat. IBM spent $2 billion in R&D and acquisitions over four years to get all the technology it needed for these puppies, it says. 

PureSystems include “self-healing” automation properties. Basically, IBM has taken the software it uses to scale its cloud and put it on the integrated systems. IBM claims these servers don’t need a human being to set them up, upgrade them or adjust them to make applications perform better. They do that themselves.

Software applications need to be tested and labelled as “PureSystems Ready” to really take advantage of all the automation. Tested applications can be rolled out in hours instead of days, IBM says.

IT departments will be able to teach the servers how to deal with their own custom software too though this kind of testing.

Prices for the servers start at $100,000.

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