R&D Spotlight: IBM Sets Sights on Cisco and Oracle

IBM (NYSE:IBM) is finally ready to launch a converged data center system and says it has the wherewithal to beat the established products of Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) and Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL). The system, which IBM says it spent three years and $2 billion to develop, will run the company’s cloud computing technology, SmartCloud.

IBM’s PureSystems will go into the same market as Cisco’s UCS line and Oracle’s Exadata and Exalogic solutions. However, IBM says its product is unique for being able to simultaneously support multiple CPU architectures and run UNIX, Windows, and Linux operating systems at the same time.

“No other system offers consolidation without migration — we designed it so it can deal with multiple compute nodes in the same box,” IBM’s senior vice president Rod Adkins told GigaOM.

Converged systems let businesses run cloud-style computing without the cost of building such architectures from scratch.

PureSystems will be offered in a series of integrated hardware and software offerings. The PureFlex line will be the infrastructure foundation piece, while PureApplications will layer database, middleware, and other software. IBM will launch PureFlex this quarter, Adkins said. Both lines will come in Express, Standard, and Enterprise units, and will start at $100,000 for the lowest end model.

The system boosts application performance by eliminating a top-of-rack switch, Adkins added. “With the SmartCloud integration you can basically do a four-click deployment to provision a new cloud — you identify the resources, pool them, pick the applications, then deploy and run,” he said.

It’ll be interesting to see if the system can dislodge established products.