For the 40 years ending the 1990’s it was a big deal whenever IBM introduced new hardware.  These days, hardware announcements from any vendor rarely get much mindshare.  This is partly because new generations of faster, smaller, cheaper, more efficient machines appear predictably every two years or less. 

The new IBM Power 7 series does everything a next generation of hardware is supposed to including wow us with esoteric new jargon such as TurboCore, intelligent threading, and Active Memory Expansion.  I have not bothered to look into what any of these new features offer because understanding the magic that happens under the cover is no longer all that important to many of us. 

All that those of you that run your JDE software on Power hardware under OS/400, AIX or Linux need to know is that hardware costs have once more gone down while capacity, capability and speed have risen – something that we have come to expect periodically. 

The hype and buzz surrounding the Power 7 introduction has led me to think about things other than the mind numbing details: 

  • IBM has slowly taken over leadership of the Unix market during the past 20 years.  Power 7 is likely to solidify that position in the near term.
  • At the moment, H-P is the strongest threat to IBM especially following its own product upgrade based on a new generation of Intel chips.  While H-P continues to lose share to IBM in the Unix segment, it continues to gain versus IBM in the Wintel market.
  • The AS/400 / iSeries was folded into the Power product line over the years in a way that minimized outcry from the faithful.  Steady Power 7 improvements are successfully papering over the fact that evolution of the i-specific portion of the operating system has nearly ground to a halt.
  • IBM successfully wacked the Sun mole back into its hole in recent years only to see it pop out of another one that Oracle dug for it (please forgive the badly strained metaphor).
  • Oracle’s plan to reverse Sun’s fortunes depends on being able to optimize the way in which Oracle products perform on Sun hardware.  It is not clear to me if there will be a way to make Sun hardware more attractive to JDE customers in the future versus IBM.  It will be nice for us if they do. 

I am old enough to remember the days when IBM completely dominated the computer hardware market.  Now, IBM is just trying to maintain leadership in one major market segment.  I have to believe that IBM will succeed and continue to grow share in the Unix market through Power 7.  Having IBM, Sun as well as H-P fight for the right to provide servers for our JDE applications should be good for all of us.

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