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x86 factor shakes up server market

It looks like people are starting to catch on to the trend of replacing big, expensive and bulky servers with new, powerful, low-cost alternative x86 servers for the data center.  Instead of purchasing an expensive 8-way SPARC based Unix box, IT shops are looking at blade servers, 1U boxes, multi-core solutions, 32-bit and 64-bit x86 processors and then possibly combining them with virtualization. 

Quoting from TechWorld

Today IT executives have many more questions to answer before making a buying decision. Blade server or 1U box? Single-chip, dual-core or maybe quad-core? 32-bit or 64-bit? How about virtualisation? Windows or Unix or Linux?

The driving force behind this explosion of customer choice in the server market is the x86 platform, which has grown from its roots as an inexpensive, low-end Wintel box that wasn't to be trusted with mission-critical applications, to the most widely purchased server in the world, capable of supporting workloads once limited to expensive mainframes and Unix systems.

And the power of the x86 architecture, originally developed by Intel, is expected only to grow. Intel and competitor AMD support 64-bit computing along with traditional 32-bit, have introduced dual-core processors and are integrating virtualisation technologies into their silicon to make virtualised workloads perform better.

...

Virtualisation on x86 platforms "is going to take a big step forward," he predicts. "Anybody that's looking to do virtualisation today and plans to do it on a new system, should delay their purchase to make sure they buy the new [AMD] Pacifica- or [Intel] VT-enabled technology," he says.

These advancements should be good news for IT buyers, who now find the low-cost servers to be suitable replacements for big, expensive boxes.

So how do companies know which server platform is right for which workload? As always has been the case, the goal is to find the server on which the software runs best. The answer, however, may come as a surprise.

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But when it comes to navigating the server market, analysts warn that price is no longer enough. When looking for a systems vendor, IT buyers must look at the whole package.

"Price is important, but it's no longer the key thing," says Vernon Turner, group vice president and general manager of IDC's Enterprise Computing. "Look to see whether the vendor has a good blade strategy [and] a good virtualisation road map. More importantly, do they have good systems management? What is their relationship with independent software vendors and partners to make the hardware a solution? We've gotten to the point of saying servers are no longer point products, but solutions."

Check out the entire article, here.

 

Published Thursday, June 22, 2006 6:30 AM by David Marshall
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