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IBM Cuts Price to Push into the Cloud & Big Data

Adkins: 'Big Data and cloud systems that were once only affordable to large enterprises are now available to the masses'

IBM is out to push its Power-based servers into Big Data and the cloud.

Its problem is the cheap commodity servers sold by HP and Dell.

Its answer Tuesday was to cut the price of its proprietary hardware by as much as 50%.

That was the day it unveiled a line of eight Power 7+-based servers running AIX or Linux whose price starts a shade under six grand, the same neighborhood where comparable x86 boxes live, a first for IBM.

They're supposed to be fitted with technology borrowed from Big Blue's super-smart Watson supercomputer, the one that beat human contestants on the Jeopardy game show. The Watson widgetry will let users analyze Big Data and run Hadoop and set up a private cloud at a cheaper cost.

IBM is directing the systems at SMBs who, it says, "have struggled to adopt Big Data and private cloud solutions due to lack of in-house skills and expertise to design and maintain commodity hardware-based systems." Its new stuff is supposed to be easy to use.

"Big Data and cloud systems that were once only affordable to large enterprises are now available to the masses," said Rod Adkins, Senior VP of IBM's Systems & Technology Group in a statement. "With these new systems, IBM is forging an aggressive expansion of its Power and Storage Systems business into SMB and growth markets."

The new systems, which could represent a bit of a problem for Sun and HP's Itanium gear, come optimized for IBM's analytics software including Cognos and SPSS for business and predictive analytics.

IBM will use distribution channels to get the widgetry to market.

It says its Power chips can be a better platform for Big Data and cloud than commodity x86 hardware because embedded memory and virtualization - key ingredients for analytics and cloud workloads - are built into the processor. Folks who want a private cloud can use the optional PowerVM that virtualizes memory, processors, networking and storage.

Power 7+ chips, which comes with four to 16 cores, are also supposed to outperform the x86 in per-core performance.

The low-end single-socket Power 710 Express and two-socket 730 Express are 2U rack servers with 5.4TB maximum storage. The 710 has a memory capacity of 256GB, while the 730 has more disk bays and supports up to 512GB of memory in eight slots.

The servers have five PCI-Express slots. The single-socket Power 720 Express and two-socket 740 Express are 4U rack servers with storage capacity of up to 7.2TB. They support up to 512GB of memory, while the 720 has 25 PCI-Express slots, and the 740 has 45 PCI-Express slots. IBM also upgraded its high-end Power 750 Express 19U rack with Power7+ chips.

The 750 and 760, meant for mid-sized and large enterprises, are supposed to be ideal consolidation platforms that centralize Big Data analytics and cloud workloads.

IBM also wheeled out an upgraded PureData System for Analytics (née Netezza) that competes with Greenplum, Exadata and Teradata and is now is supposed to deliver three times faster query performance and 50% more data capacity per rack in the same footprint.

There's also a new PureApplication System for private cloud application deployment including a so-called "Mini" model targeted at organizations with limited budgets and IT resources, a PureApplication System on Power7+ for transaction processing and analytics in the cloud and a new PureFlex System aimed at managed service providers (MSPs) that's said to be 50% cheaper than starting from scratch.

IDC puts the overall market for Big Data technology - hardware, software and services - at $23.7 billion by 2016, up from $8.1 billion last year.

IBM will start delivering by February 20.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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