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IBM's new server targets the 'i' in SMB

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IBM has released what it claims is an all-singing, all-dancing box designed for the industry's craze-du-jour, the SMB market.

The company's angle is simplicity for the System i Express, the latest addition to the SMB System i server line.

With infomercial flair at a press and analyst event in San Francisco today, IBM's System i general manager Mark Shearer pulled a sheet revealing a row of six Dell servers. On the opposite table was the Express system.

"Why would you want all this when all you need is this!"

It slices! It dices!

IBM hopes to woo multiple Windows-based server users with a single box that comes with a built-in OS, security tools, backup and recovery software, web-based management and a web server.

"It's a datacenter in a box," Shearer said. "Everything is pre-integrated."

The company message was that the box is so easy to use that customers can survive massive layoffs in their IT department. (This was met with jovial laughs. Clearly admins were not invited to the party.)

The System i Express comes in two flavors. The 515 model, designed for small businesses and the 525 for mid-sized crews.

The 515 runs on a 1.9GHz Power5+ processor and supports 1-8GB of memory. The box manages 2-8 drives with mirroring or RAID-5 protection. It also comes with five user licenses and can have up to 40. Additional licenses cost $1,250 per five users.

IBM offers up three different versions of the 515 - two single-socket systems and a dual-socket system - which can be found here.

The dual-socket System i 525 has a 1.9GHz Power5+ processor and has 1-32GB memory. The box can manage 2-278 drives with mirroring or RAID-5 protection. Customers can pick from 30 to an unlimited number of user licenses, depending on the configuration.

There are four configurations available here.

Both boxes are Linux, Windows Server (through a BladeCenter or System x system), AIX and i5/OS capable.

Shearer claims that before the announcement, IBM's entry-level price for a System i server was $12,000. IBM said they were pushed to lower that by independent software vendors.

Of course it wouldn't be a proper modern IBM gathering without wistful recollections of the past.

"We hope the System i will bring IBM back to its server and database glory days," VP of worldwide System i sales Bill Donohue said. "This is the way we're going to go after new customers." ®

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