IBM Ditches i and AIX in U.S. Open Systems for Linux
September 2, 2008 Timothy Prickett Morgan
There was a time when IBM took a lot of pride in supporting the IT needs of big sporting events like the Olympic Games and the U.S. Open, and it also used to try to showcase all of its key information systems as part of the overall solutions. IBM walked away from the Olympics IT sponsorship after the Barcelona games, but it still hosts the infrastructure for the U.S. Open tennis competition. The one big change at this year’s tennis tournament is that IBM is not only consolidating servers, but has ported all the applications, which do scoring and provide Web applications, to Linux.
The server consolidation has been pretty impressive for the systems used by the U.S. Tennis Association. Back in 2006, for instance, the infrastructure consisted of a total of 60 servers. Thanks to the use of the PowerVM hypervisor, IBM has been able to consolidate physical servers onto logical ones, and with the 2008 version of the U.S. Open systems, IBM has consolidated from the nine Power5+ servers it used last year to a total of six Power6-based Power 550 midrange servers. IBM says that moving from a collection of X64 and Power servers in 2006 to one-tenth as many Power6 servers in 2008 has enabled the USTA to cut its power consumption by 40 percent and its need for cooling by 48 percent–all while supporting 26 percent more traffic on the systems and reducing the cost for supporting that traffic by 38 percent. That’s a pretty strong argument for server consolidation and operating system simplification.
At this rate, the 2012 U.S. Open will be able to host its Web and scoring systems on a computer the size of a can of tennis balls that only costs $25,000.
Considering that IBM doesn’t own a Linux operating system and has just rejiggered pricing on i 6.1 and AIX 6.1 to make them more competitive with Linux, the Grand Slam systems that IBM makes available to the U.S. Open, the French Open, and the Australian Open would seem to be a perfect place to show how a mix of AIX and i on Power6 iron is the best way to support modern Web applications. I mean, IBM does want to sell its own operating systems, right? And if AIX and i can’t–or won’t–compete against Linux on a level court with a study and straight net, well, what’s the point? There’s always 2009. . . . Maybe Bob Moffatt, the new head of IBM’s Systems and Technology Group, will see the wisdom of IBM promoting its own software. Linux doesn’t need any marketing help, and there is nothing that Linux on Power can do that AIX or i on Power can’t do.