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Noise Filter: IBM’s New PureSystems Line

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Every now and then, an exciting or controversial issue triggers a flood of online discourse. For our Noise Filter feature, the WHIR pans the raging rivers of opinion for shining nuggets of useful commentary.

IBM made a pretty big announcement Wednesday with the introduction of its new line of PureSystems cloud integrated data center systems.

PureSystems is designed to integrate all major IT components, whether they are physical or virtual, and ultimately provide businesses with an alternative model to enterprise computing infrastructure.

The line of integrated data center systems will ultimately cut high costs and complexities associated with IT management, as PureSystems can automatically and quickly scale compute resources, networking and storage.

This converged cloud computing approach strategy puts IBM in direct competition with other large hardware players, including Oracle, Cisco, EMC, VMware, and HP.

In a post by eWeek, Darryl K. Taft explained how PureSystems differs from the traditional enterprise computing model available today.

The new systems family offers IBM customers a clean break from today’s enterprise computing model, where multiple and disparate systems require significant resources to set up and maintain.

Unlike appliances, which tend to address niche uses, PureSystems packages will have a potentially wide user base, given the general duties they can undertake. And unlike custom packages, they can be deployed relatively quickly, Wieck said.

A report by ZDNet cites remarks by Rod Adkins, senior vice president of IBM’s systems and technology group explaining how PureSystems differs from a standard appliance.

When asked whether PureSystems are glorified appliances, Adkins chafed. He said these systems are more three dimensional that has the flexibility of a general purpose system, elasticity to scale and the simplicity of an appliance. He also noted that Oracle and Cisco are more bundles than systems that are integrated from the start. “The big difference is the flexibility,” said Adkins.

PC World‘s Joab Jackson echos these sentiments, explaining that PureSystems will have a broader appeal to users.

Unlike appliances, which tend to address niche uses, PureSystems packages will have a potentially wide user base, given the general duties they can undertake. And unlike custom packages, they can be deployed relatively quickly, Wieck said.

The New York Times‘ Steve Lohr reported that PureSystems could be “the most ambitious step yet to simplify and streamline data center technology.”

With this initiative, IBM will sell bundles of server hardware and software packaged in simplified systems, with setup and maintenance automated by intelligent software. Tasks that now take days or weeks can be reduced to hours, the company claims.

But this is not to say that everyone is fully convinced that PureSystems will have a profound impact on the computing industry. In a GigaOM report, Barb Darrow says the high-end pricing of PureSystems could be its downfall.

Lateness is one thing. There’s also debate whether high-end and pricey boxes like these (PureFlex starts at $100,000 for the low-end Express model) are the right solution for cloud computing. Conventional wisdom holds that the best way to attack cloud computing is with massively scaled-out commodity hardware.

But later, she cites remarks from analyst Richard Ptak, co-founder of research firm Ptak Noel & Associates, who feels that flexibility could be a key differentiator for PureSystems:

”You can mix and match multiple blades and move the virtual environment from one blade to another if needed — and all of that can be managed,” he said. The net result, according to Ptak, is that PureSystems give users the simplicity of an appliance, the flexibility of the traditional computing model and the automatic scale-up/scale-down of the cloud computing model.

Talk Back: Are you considering using PureSystems? Do you feel the industry is moving towards an overall converged computing  strategy? Let us know in the comments.

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