Big Blue puts storage back in the server with new p610

Targeting what it sees as a quickly expanding market for small to medium-sized business servers, IBM Corp. on Feb. 13 introduced an upgraded p610 Unix server with a twist: internal RAID 5 storage.

Bucking an ongoing industrywide trend toward taking storage off servers and putting it into networked storage devices, IBM hopes to bring added simplicity to a growing group of users not interested in managing an external storage device, said Chuck Bryan, director of product marketing for pSeries product marketing.

Available in a tower-style chassis or as an 8.75-inch rack-mounted system, the new p610 can store up to 291GB of internal disk storage across six hot-swappable drives. RAID 5 storage is an option that can be easily configured using available drives and drive space, Bryan said.

Storage consolidation on the p610 also saves on power consumption, another incentive for the server’s target market, Bryan said.

“There is an increasing number of small to medium[-size] businesses,” and for many of them the p610 “is going to be their main server. So putting the storage in it internally consumes less power, another plus,” Bryan said.

Regardless of the p610’s entry-level branding, large companies also stand to benefit from the server, Bryan said.

“Large customers are putting these entry servers in remote locations, like insurance agencies and retail chains that get customer data from the corporate network,” Bryan explained.

Jonathan Eunice, principal analyst and IT advisor with Illuminata Inc., an industry consulting group in Nashua, N.H., agreed that there is a growing need for servers that provide large amounts of localized, internal storage, and that IBM is on track by offering RAID 5 as an internal option in the p610.

“If you [deploy a server] in a remote retail store environment or a remote bank branch, you are probably going to want to have local storage,” Eunice said. “If you deploy servers in data center racks you will have storage elsewhere in the network. IBM has factored [the p610] so that if customers need to they can slap [RAID 5] in, and if they don’t need it they don’t encumber the cost. It’s not one or the other.”

IBM is also offering the option of a slower 333MHz Power-series processor for the p610 to assist customer looking for the lowest possible entry point, Bryan said.

A p610 configured with a single 333MHz chip, two Ethernet ports, a 36GB hard drive, 1GB of memory, and internal RAID 5 with four 18GB hot-swappable drives starts at US$17,175, according to IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y.

Being a RISC-based Unix server, the p610 should also be popular with companies that are already managing similar IBM environments powered by high-end systems such as the RS6000, Eunice said.