Back in July, I started what will eventually be a series of stories on what IBM should be doing with its systems business. And like a bolt from the blue, the company did something that I have been mulling for the past several months in earnest and noodling for the past several years off and on. And what IBM has done is to mimic the ARM collective and open up the intellectual property surrounding its Power chips to help foster a broader ecosystem of users and system makers.
The Flex System modular server design is an improvement over the BladeCenter blade servers in that the IBM i operating system running on Power nodes is an equal and a peer to AIX and Linux running on the same iron and is similarly not a second-class citizen to Windows and Linux running on nodes using Intel's Xeon processors. But as I have said many times since the Flex System machines were launched in April 2012, the two-socket Power nodes are overkill in terms of processing power and IBM i software tiers for the vast majority of midrange shops.
Big Blue had a tough first quarter, but things got a little bit better in the second three months of 2013 and the company's top brass are feeling pretty good about the prospects for business in the second half of this year. This is the picture that IBM is painting despite some rough currency fluctuations that do not play in its favor and continuing difficulties in the RISC/Unix and x86 server segments. And tough competition in the storage business, too.