IBM has previewed what it called a major new release of i5/OS, its operating system for IBM's System i Unix servers, as well as a new Power6-based System i server that will include the new OS.

Expected in 2008, i5/OS v6 will feature new security, web services and virtualisation capabilities. Specifically, new features in i5/OS v6 include:

  • An encryption feature to help companies protect vital data by encrypting data held on disk devices and backed up to tape.

  • Virtualisation support that allows one i5/OS partition to host storage for another i5/OS partition. This will eliminate the requirement for separate partitions to maintain their own, individual hardware, making it easier for users to flexibly test and deploy new i5/OS applications, according to Big Blue.

  • Utilities for simpler deployment and better integration with web services as well as an integrated Web application server to simplify the deployment of Java applications with minimal system resources and administration.

The new i5/OS v6 will also use IBM Systems Director for managing i Series systems based on IBM OSes as well as Unix and Windows.

IBM said that a new pricing structure introduced with the new i5/OS version allows users to pay for what they use. Under this approach, three base configurations are offered along with an initial processor licence of the i5/OS operating system. Other components - such as additional processor activations, Linux, AIX or 5250 online transaction processing - can be added per-processor based on individual client need, said IBM.

New hardware

IBM has also unveiled the new System i 570 featuring the recently unveiled Power6 chip. The server is aimed at helping medium and large enterprises improve their operational efficiency via what IBM called a doubling of application performance compared Power5-based systems.

IBM claimed that the new system can also run multiple transactional, collaborative and Web applications simultaneously in up to 160 separate virtual server partitions that share computing and operations resources on a single system, in order to make savings on floor space, power and cooling via server consolidation.

You can add to the i570 to make more stand-by power available and extend the system’s capabilities as requirements change, reckoned the company.

"Today we're announcing the first System i and i5/OS products from IBM's new Power Systems business unit," said Ross Mauri, general manager of IBM Power Systems. "Nearly half of IBM's systems clients today have i5/OS installed in their enterprise. IBM will continue to build on the integrated, easy-to-use value proposition of i5/OS so clients can rely on this proven platform for their enterprise applications."

"Thanks to POWER6, the System i 570 will deliver breakthroughs in energy conservation and virtualisation technology - two of the most critical areas of focus for our clients," said Stan Staszak, director of System i and System x products for Sirius. "With its advanced virtualisation technologies, the System i 570 can deliver POWER6 processing capacity for multiple operating systems simultaneously, including i5/OS, Linux and AIX. This will allow Sirius clients to dramatically simplify their IT infrastructures."

IBM also announced availability of the MySQL open source database for the current version of i5/OS, which follows the delivery of PHP for i5/OS by Zend in 2006.

According to IBM, this means users have a portfolio of thousands of new open source applications and development options they can run with i5/OS. Big Blue cited SugarCRM’s plans to make its open source customer relationship management (CRM) software available for i5/OS as an example. In the future, IBM and MySQL AB plan to deliver DB2 for i5/OS as a certified MySQL storage engine on the System i to increase integration with existing i5/OS data, reckoned the company.

Pricing and availability

The System i570 with POWER6 processors will be available with i5/OS V5R4 in September starting at US$165,000. i5/OS V6R1 is expected to be available in 2008.