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IBM is outfitting its line of System i5 servers with the new Power5+ processor and is introducing the newest version of its i5/OS operating system.

The enhancements are designed to improve the performance and reach of the systems—which are targeted at SMBs (small and midsize businesses)—while upgrading the flexibility, security and disaster recovery capabilities in the operating system, according to Ian Jarmen, product manager for IBM’s iSeries platform.

IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., first introduced the Power5+ chip in October in the System p5 family of servers, a move that also included the melding of the pSeries with the OpenPower servers designed specifically for Linux.

Click here to read more about the Power5+-based System p5 family.

Power5+ runs at speeds of up to 2.2GHz and offers the i5 servers up to a 33 percent increase in performance over the current Power5-based iSeries systems. In addition, the two-way i5 520 will be offered with IBM’s Capacity on Demand feature, which enables users to turn on the second processor temporarily or permanently to respond to business demands.

Similarly, IBM’s Accelerator technology enables a smaller business running a single-processor 520 to crank up the performance of the chip if needed. “It’s essentially Capacity on Demand for a one-way [system],” Jarmen said.

However, much of the improvements are going to come through the next version of the operating system, i5/OS V5R4. The goal was to simplify the OS for both end users and software developers, he said. Businesses can now more easily make their business applications available as Web services, or access via Web services, thanks to the availability of the open-source Apache Axis application programming interfaces.

Security also is enhanced with new auditing and intrusion detection capabilities, strengthening a business’s protection against such network attacks as scanning for open TCP/IP ports.

There also are easier database management tools, simpler integration with IBM storage area networks, and a new 32-bit Java Virtual Machine, which cuts down the cost for users looking to deploy 32-bit Java applications.

E.D. Smith & Sons, a food supplier in Winona, Ontario, has been testing the new i5/OS since the fall. A key feature for Beverly Russell, director of IT at the company, is the virtual tape support, which enables users to save directly to disk rather than a tape drive, saving time during backup operations.

“The virtual tape is important so you can load up all the CDs of the OS and do an install in one shot, instead of having to keep feeding the machine,” Russell said.

That saves both time and money, she said. In addition, it can be done remotely, rather than having to have someone on site.

Jarmen said the new operating system also gives businesses a look at future integration of IBM’s BladeCenter and Intel-based xSeries systems to System i5 storage via an iSCSI connection, enabling the management of the Intel-based servers from the i5 platform.

This will enable i5 system users to consolidate on BladeCenter blade servers or small-form-factor xSeries servers but retain their i5 storage and management capabilities, Jarmen said.

The Power5+ processor will be available on all i5 systems—the 520, 550, 570 and 595—Feb. 14. The integration of BladeCenter with i5 servers will be available in May.

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