IBM saves $250 million consolidating Linux servers on to mainframes

Talk about eating your own dog food. IBM today will announce it is consolidating nearly 4,000 small computer servers in six locations onto about 30 refrigerator-sized mainframes running Linux saving $250 million in the process.

The 4,000 servers that IBM will replace by making this change will be recycled by IBM Global Asset Recovery Services.

This change will affect IBM's data centers in Poughkeepsie, New York, Southbury, Conn., Boulder, Col, Portsmouth, UK, Osaka, Japan, and Sydney, Australia.

These six data centers currently take up over 8 million square feet, or the size of nearly 140 football fields.The message in this announcement is two-fold: first IBM has been a big green data center proponent recently announcing a $1billion a year service initiative called Big Green to help customers cut their data center energy bills and redesign their data centers to be more environmentally friendly.

IBM compares Big Green it to the commitment it made 10 years ago to embrace the Internet and later Linux free software, both for its own use and as a service business for corporate and government customers.

IBM in June said it was using a variety of green technologies for an $86 million data center expansion in Boulder, Colo., that will make the facility the company's largest data center in the world.

The project, involving high-density computing systems that use server and storage virtualization, and energy-efficient power and cooling systems, is part of IBM's goal to double its data-center capacity by 2010 without increasing energy usage or carbon emissions.

The Boulder data center, currently measuring 225,000 square feet, will increase to more than 300,000 square feet once the expansion is complete next year.

The new space will be 45% more energy efficient than a typical IBM data center, due to efficient building designs, new lighting systems as well as highly efficient air conditioning and extensive use of virtualization. Not to mention that Big Blue has for a few years been pushing the mainframe as a server consolidator and now it's showing the world how it can be done.

The company recently strengthened the Big Iron/Linux relationship by partnering to deploy and support Red Hat's Linux software on IBM's System z mainframes.

The vendors say they created the partnership because governments and companies are increasingly using Red Hat's open source Enterprise Linux on mainframes with the goals of enhancing security and scalability of Linux systems.

According to IBM, the company's mainframe business is going strong, with four consecutive quarters of revenue growth, and seven consecutive quarters of growth in usage by customers.

NEW: for more analysis of this story, check out my collegue John Fontana's coverage of the event:

IBM was also part of a massive 10-year, $50 billion IT services deal known as Alliant today.

The U.S. government selected 29 companies, including AT&T, IBM and EDS, for its massive Alliant project, which will be the primary contract for purchasing IT services across the federal market for the next decade.

Alliant is available to all civilian and defense agencies for purchasing IT systems design, software engineering and other services.

Among the types of projects that Alliant will support include e-government, logistics and financial systems.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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