IBM has announced its "Virtualization Engine", this is a piece of software that allows users to run as much as 10 computer servers per processor. They said that this software will be embedded in their non-mainframe servers allowing customers to partition their servers or other systems, as with a mainframe computer.
IBM's Virtualization Engine will also use basic provisioning and management tools from its Tivoli software unit, as well as function in its WebSphere products, across a range of IBM systems.
Virtualization refers to the ability to gather the computing resources of many servers and units of data storage equipment in centralized "pools" of computing power and data that can be easily allocated as demands on the system change.
IBM said that because of the technology, for the first time customers will be able to run as many as 10 servers running the Unix operator system or other non-mainframe systems, off of one microprocessor. A server typically has one or more processors, which are the brains that run a computer.
A four-processor system, using the software technology, could be run like a 40-processor system, using one or multiple operating system types or versions at the same time, IBM said.
Armonk, New York-based IBM isn't alone in offering virtualization software. Rivals Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ.N: Quote, Profile, Research) , with its adaptive enterprise strategy, and Sun Microsystems Inc. (SUNW.O: Quote, Profile, Research) , with its N1 architecture, also offer software with different levels of virtualization.
Jonathan Eunice, principal analyst at market research firm Illuminata Inc., said that it was a good start for IBM.
"Each successive version will be more unified, have the parts more aggressively connected, and have fewer visible seams," Eunice wrote in an e-mail. "And that's actually pretty important, given that users are just coming to grips with how to systematically virtualize and simplify their (information technology) infrastructures."