IBM is expanding its Flex Server lineup with three new POWER 7+ server designs as well as a new double-density x86 Flex System server.
On the POWER side, the new p260, p270 and p460 Flex Server systems are all updated or newer versions of servers that IBM already has on the market.
"We have been shipping POWER7 processor-based compute nodes since the original general availability in June 2012," Jeff Howard, VP PureFlex and Flex Systems at IBM, explained to ServerWatch. "These are new or updated nodes with POWER7+ capabilities."
Howard explained that the Flex System p260 is an existing POWER7+ compute node. The Flex System p460 is currently a POWER7-based compute node and is being updated to POWER7+.
The Flex System p270 is a new POWER7+, high-throughput, 2-socket compute node that features POWER7+ dual-chip module packaging technology.
"Flex System POWER compute nodes are targeted to clients who may be using multiple servers in a single location and can benefit from the simplicity as well as space, energy, and thermal savings that Flex System's modular, dense packaging can provide over rack servers or existing blade solutions," Howard said.
Flex isn't just about POWER, though; it's also about x86. IBM is now debuting a new x86 "double-dense" Flex System.
"The Flex System x222 compute node is a twin node that provides two independent 2-socket x86 EN processor servers in the same physical package as existing single-density 2-socket compute nodes such as the x220 or x240," Howard explained.
He added that the Flex System x222 enables up to 28 independent servers to be housed in a single, 14-slot Flex System Enterprise chassis, supporting up to 2800 Windows 7 virtual desktop images in that single chassis.
"The x222 literally enables two times as many servers in the same physical space," Howard said.
Flex System Manager
In addition to the raw server capabilities, IBM also has a Flex System Manager to enable easier administration and operation of its Flex Server systems. With the updated systems rollout, Flex System Manager is also getting an update that will enable IBM clients to manage up to 5,000 infrastructure end points.
"The previous versions of Flex System Manager had a published support limit of 4 chassis, but we had not published an end point limit of support," Howard said. "IBM is stating support with Flex System Manager v1.3 for up to 16 virtualized chassis ,meaning management for both physical and virtual environments unlike competitors, 224 compute nodes and up to 5000 endpoints (including virtual machines, IP addresses, LUNs, or any other managed endpoints)."
Beyond just the servers, IBM is adding new Software-Defined Networking (SDN) capabilities with enhanced switching gear that complements the Flex Systems portfolio.
In total, IBM is announcing three new or updated switches, including an end-to-end 40 GbE switch and adapter set of solutions and a new system interconnect module called the SI4093, which simultaneously simplifies uplink connections like a port aggregator.
One of IBM's existing switches, the 10 GbE Flex System Fabric EN4093R gets a firmware update that enables it to act as an OpenFlow switch in a software-defined networking environment.
Who Need Flex?
"Flex System components are enabled for general purpose infrastructure, but many elements excel in different areas," Howard said. "For example, the new Flex System x222 double-density x86 node is excellent in highly virtualized cloud or desktop virtualization environments. "
The new Flex System p270 compute node characteristics match very well with technical computing, analytics, or other high-throughput workloads.
IBM is also taking aim at those organizations that are currently using blade technologies such as IBM BladeCenter, HP BladeSystem, Cisco UCS or other blade offerings. In Howard's view, the Flex System is the next logical step for moving beyond blades for better consolidation of workloads and increased scalability.
"Flex System chassis technology represents the next generation of chassis designed for the most demanding processor and networking environments and multiple generations of technology for the next decade," Howard said.