Feeds

IBM's PureSystems mod boxes bust kilo-customer barrier

Tough to beat the Cisco UCS ramp, though

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Every market has its own psychological barrier, and for IBM systems the magic number seems to be 1,000. As part of the recent tweaks to its PureSystems line, Big Blue brags that it now has more than 1,000 unique customers worldwide using the new boxes.

IBM did not supply any numbers regarding the volume of server nodes or racks these first kilo-customers that it found for the PureSystem family of modular systems, which consist of its Flex System chassis and Flex Power and x86 server nodes. These are stacked up in racks with switches and integrated storage to make the raw PureFlex infrastructure clouds, the PureApplications application servers, and the PureData analytics appliances.

The 1,000-customer milestone for PureSystems machines in that seven month period is on par with other big IBM system launches.

Take the ground-breaking dual-core Power4 "Regatta-H" pSeries 690 machines launched in October 2001. Those machines shipped in December 2001, and by May 2002 – a little more than five months later – IBM had shipped 1,000 of these machines. (Most of these went to one customer each, but there were some customers who got more than one box eventually.)

Here's another example: In November 2007, after serious pent-up demand for the dual-core Power6 processors, IBM was able to sell 1,000 of the System p570 machines in about four months. (Again, some customers got more than one.)

The Flex System sales rate is roughly akin to the sales rate on the p690 and p570 above, but it is not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison.

But that's just the nature of systems today. The rack is becoming the system, extensible across multiple racks in a single management domain that is, for all intents and purposes, a system.

Our guess is that if there are 1,000 customers who bought boxes between the end of May and the middle of November – which is a little more than five months – there are probably many several thousands of racks involved in those deals. Some service providers are buying a few racks, some customers only a portion of a rack to start. Those few-thousand racks should have many thousands of servers – and perhaps tens of thousands – of server nodes.

The Flex System was designed to compete against the "California" Unified Computing System from Cisco Systems, and it bears more than a passing resemblance to it. So maybe that's a better thing to compare with the PureFlex platforms in their various incarnations.

Cisco announced the UCS machines in March 2009, and the machines started shipping in July of that year. It took until May 2010 for the UCS machines to have 900 customers, which is a slower ramp than the PureSystems as a group.

A year later, Cisco broke through 5,400 unique customers, and in January of this year it hit 10,000 customers. Cisco has not talked about unique customers for the remainder of this year, but it should be well above 15,000 now and heading toward 20,000 if trends persist.

It will be interesting to see if IBM can beat this UCS curve – and if it provides the numbers to prove it when and if it does. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
729 teraflops, 71,000-core Super cost just US$5,500 to build
Cloud doubters, this isn't going to be your best day
Want to STUFF Facebook with blatant ADVERTISING? Fine! But you must PAY
Pony up or push off, Zuck tells social marketeers
Oi, Europe! Tell US feds to GTFO of our servers, say Microsoft and pals
By writing a really angry letter about how it's harming our cloud business, ta
SAVE ME, NASA system builder, from my DEAD WORKSTATION
Anal-retentive hardware nerd in paws-on workstation crisis
Microsoft adds video offering to Office 365. Oh NOES, you'll need Adobe Flash
Lovely presentations... but not on your Flash-hating mobe
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.