The PureFlex and Flex System platform is the next evolution of blade chassis from IBM. CDW received our test PureFlex system a couple of weeks ago and we have been learning how it physically works and what differentiates it from the competition.

So far we have learned a lot about how the platform technically functions as well as where it may work best for our customers. With any new technology, it takes some time to understand how it will fit into the data center. The IBM PureFlex is no different.

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Let’s start by just talking about the different versions of the Flex hardware. There are 3 different configurations the platform can be purchased.

The Flex System Solution. Similar to the older IBM blade chassis, the Flex Systems are “build what you want and grow it as your requirements grow.” So if you just want to purchase the chassis with a single blade, power and switches this year and then add more blades to it next year, this would be the solution. Call Flex Systems the build as you go model.

The PureFlex Configuration. This consists of a prebuilt set of blades, networking and software along with IBM Lab Services. The idea here is you will get a complete solution from IBM including installation and training. This bundle will be the best value for a complete infrastructure solution. Think of “datacenter in a box”.

The PureSystems Configuration. This takes the PureFlex concept to the next level and delivers a prebuilt application with the hardware. PureSystems is designed to be a turnkey system from the power cord to client interface.

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So what makes the Flex platform different? The one thing that keeps coming to mind is the word scalable. From the 40Gb Ethernet interconnects to the V7000 virtualized storage, the potential to grow this solution is great. As of this writing, the Flex System Manager can manage up to 16 chassis at a time. No other blade solution has this type of scalability – yet. The potential for very large virtual desktop and virtual server clusters is taken to another level. At first glance we see this as a way to centralize management and standardize hardware going forward in this virtualized cloud-based world.

One more thing about the Flex System that’s new is the ability to also host IBM Power blades for AIX and System in workloads. Did I mention those nodes are also managed from the Flex System Manager? This is a major step forward in datacenter consolidation. Think about it. You could manage your Linux, Windows, VMware, AIX and iSeries all from one point. For the first time you can say you really can converge your infrastructure for all OS workloads to one platform.

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There is a lot more to learn. But right now we know how valuable this platform could be to our customers going forward. Are you interested in this new offering? Comment below.

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