April 7, 2010 – IBM introduced a new line of workload-optimized systems this afternoon, including pureScale Application System and Smart Analytics System 9600.

The hardware and software platform is designed to deploy customized analytics applications to specific industries, such as health care, financial markets, energy and retail. Boasting high analytic and transactional speeds, it is integrated from multiprocessors, through middleware to business consulting.

With Oracle’s similar announcement early this year, today’s IBM release and another from HP in January are reactions to the database, application and middleware giant, according to Joseph  Pucciarelli, program director of technology financial and executive strategies at IDC. “Three major platforms are squaring off in the space.”

The biggest potential competitor for IBM’s new release is Oracle, which noted workload optimization (principally via its Exadata clusters) as a driver in the purchase of Sun Microsystems, according to Charles King, principal analyst for Pund-IT, Inc. “Other competitors – HP and Microsoft, for example – could play in this space, too but they don’t have all of the pieces necessary to build new solutions by themselves.”

That said, IBM has gone the distance and put a product up that matches the Oracle alternative, says Pucciarelli. They’ve expanded to broaden the basis of competition, adding go-to-market solutions. “What you’re seeing is a much richer base of competition.”

Designed to draw insights from rapidly growing amounts of data across the enterprise, IBM’s new products glean information that assists in anticipating business trends and new opportunities, as well as predicting risk. IBM pureScale is configured to handle heavy transactional workloads, combining POWER7-based servers to provide continuous availability without limiting computing power.

In addition to pureScale, Smart Analytics Systems 9600 enters IBM product line as a series of analytics workload systems, including System Z and model 5600 with System x. Smart Analytics contains a number of integrated capabilities: Cognos and InfoSphere Warehouse software reporting, analysis and dashboarding; analytics to mine both structured data found in databases and unstructured information; and a solid state drive technology option.

IBM is making a sizable bet on workload optimization as a differentiator both now and in the future,” says King.

Systems, storage and the types/volumes of data are all growing increasingly complex, outstripping the capabilities of traditional IT solutions, according to King. “Workload optimization is not new but in the past it was mostly accomplished slowly and with great difficulty by system integrators. IBM aims to take the time, cost and complexity out of the mix by optimizing systems at the factory, thus offering systems which are less expensive and easier to deploy.”

To read more about Oracle's decision to introduce a vertically integrated technology stack click here.

Also, check out the HP/Microsoft series of software/hardware/service rollouts that CEO Mark Hurd called "the deepest level of collaboration and integration" in his company's history.

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