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IBM is extending the reach of its Power5-based i5 server family by rolling out a midrange server and expanding the management and operating system support for all i5 systems.

IBM next month will start shipping the i5 550, a four-way system targeted at midsize businesses that will include such features as IBM’s On/Off Capacity on Demand capabilities and dynamic micropartitioning. Each system will ship with four processors; customers will be able to turn more on or off depending on their business needs, said Craig Johnson, marketing manager for IBM’s iSeries servers.

“There is tremendous growth potential for [customers],” Johnson said. “Many will start with one processor turned on [and] the system is capable of handling one, two or three more processors, so it gives them real flexibility.”

The micropartitioning enables users to automatically assign fractions of a CPU to a particular workload.

The i5 550, which is being announced Tuesday, fills the gap between the one- and two-way 520 and the one- to 16-way 570, Johnson said. All three systems now come in two editions—the Standard Edition and the Enterprise Edition.

The Enterprise Edition will offer additional software and services. For example, vouchers for services and education will be available, enabling users to have IBM implement the systems on AIX and Linux or attend classes on implementation.

In addition, there will be additional backup and recovery tools not available with the Standard Edition.

The 550 also will offer two unique packages. The Solutions Edition will be a variant of the Enterprise Edition, offering a special price when included with software from a partner ISV, Johnson said. Users who may be running older applications from such companies as Lawson Software Inc., SSA Global Technologies Inc. and Clear Technologies Inc. can buy the updated systems packaged with the 550.

In addition, a Domino Edition will be available for users consolidating Domino servers or migrating from Microsoft Corp. Exchange servers.

The Standard Edition, with two processors activated, will start at $74,000, Johnson said. The Domino Edition, also with two processors turned on, will start at $56,000.

IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., also is announcing that it is extending its IBM Director management software—currently available on its Intel Corp.-based xSeries servers—to all of the systems in its portfolio, including the i5 servers. IBM Director MultiPlatform will roll out at the end of the month as part of IBM’s Virtualization Engine, Johnson said.

The management software will be offered on the various server lines in differing fashions, he said. For i5 users, it will be offered for free to those who license the i5 OS, the latest generation of the OS/400 system.

IBM later this month also will add Linux support to the Integrated xSeries Server, or IXS, and Adapter, or IXA, Johnson said. The technology—basically an Intel server in a blade-like form factor that runs Windows and enables i5 server users to support the Microsoft Corp. operating system—now enables the same support for Linux applications.

The new support enables i5 systems to support five operating systems in all: i5/OS, IBM’s Unix environment AIX 5L, Linux on IBM’s Power architecture, Linux on the Intel architecture and Windows.

All the new features are designed to give users greater choice, more flexibility and competitive prices in the systems, Johnson said.

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