The Rumor Mill Grinds Away on Upcoming Announcements
April 12, 2004 Timothy Prickett Morgan
There’s always a lot of chatter before a big IBM announcement, but rarely does it coalesce into a complete picture of the products that are soon coming to market. Such is the case with OS/400 V5R3 and the future Power5-based “Squadron” servers. As I have been reporting over the past few weeks, IBM is widely expected to announce OS/400 V5R3 in the coming weeks. But the announcements could be bigger than this.
In fact, I have heard that IBM will be announcing the new implementation of its WebSphere Web application server on April 20. OS/400 V5R3 is rumored to be coming out before the end of April, and I’ve heard both April 20 and April 27 as announcement dates. When I stop talking, that will be the signal that I am under a non-disclosure agreement with IBM and the OS/400 V5R3 announcement is coming within a week or so.
I have also heard from another source that Big Blue could be announcing the hypervisor for the Power5 machines, highlighting this as a separate product that enables the Squadron machines to exist. It would be interesting if the hypervisor is supported on any Power4 or Power4+ server in IBM’s line, and that support for concurrent OS/400, AIX, and Linux on any iSeries or pSeries machine is possible with the addition of appropriate I/O features and conversions. If IBM can do this, and does do this, it would be a wonderful way to preserve the significant investments that customers have made in recent iSeries and pSeries iron. But knowing IBM, the company will only offer support for this hypervisor on new Squadron boxes–unless it has real problems shipping Power5 chips in volume.
Another rumor I am hearing is that IBM will actually prebundle Linux on the new Squadron boxes. A few weeks ago, I told you that Novell had inked a deal with IBM to allow Big Blue to preload SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 on any eServer computer and that Red Hat had signed a deal to allow IBM to sell and distribute Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux 3.0 along with (but not yet preloaded on) IBM’s Power-based iSeries and pSeries servers and its JS20 Power-based blade servers for the BladeCenters. A few people have told me that at least some of the new Squadron machines will actually come with Linux already on them and the first year of support (what you really pay for when you buy the license) already covered. Neither Novell nor Red Hat would do this for free, but IBM did just pump $50 million into Novell and this may be the payback: IBM gets to put a copy of SuSE on the Power line as part of the Squadrons.
And here’s a new twist on the iSeries name game. The latest that I hear about the potential rebranding is that IBM may call what we might have called an iSeries Model 9XX (or something like that) the eServer i5. So we will have gone from AS/400 to AS/400e to eServer iSeries 400 to eServer iSeries to eServer i5. If this turns out to be the name of the machine that can run OS/400, AIX, and Linux concurrently, IBM could sell variants that only run AIX and Linux (the eServer p5 or eServer a5?), or one that only runs Linux (the eServer l5? And that is an “L” not a “1”). Or, this could be one of the ideas someone sent up on a trial balloon, just to see what the reaction might be.