NEW YORK, July 21 (Reuters) - IBM (IBM.N) is set to begin shipping new UNIX servers using next-generation microprocessors called POWER7 in the first half of 2010, in an attempt to win more customers away from rivals like Sun Microsystems Inc JAVA.O and Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ.N).
IBM also said customers can buy current servers with POWER6 microprocessors and upgrade to POWER7 as they become available, to ensure potential buyers don’t hold off purchases until next year. Some customers will start testing the new products soon, it said.
IBM led the $17 billion market for UNIX servers, top-end computer systems that are popular with corporations, with a share of around 37 percent in 2008, followed by Sun with 28 percent, according to market research firm IDC.
The company said last week that it gained share in the Unix market in the second quarter for the fifth straight quarter, although its systems and technology business suffered a 26 percent year-on-year decline in revenue.
Scott Handy, vice president of marketing, strategy and sales support for IBM Power Systems, said IBM wanted to make sure those who were considering a switch from Sun or HP found IBM’s product launches and upgrade processes both predictable and smooth.
The company has said it expects to benefit from uncertainty over how Sun’s products might change following its acquisition by Oracle Corp ORCL.O.
“We will surprise some of our customers with how cleanly we can take what they bought ... and upgrade them to the new POWER7 based system,” Handy told Reuters.
“And of course that really helps our sellers keep selling during the third and fourth quarter.”
IBM said the upgrade from POWER6 to POWER7 will be easy, done simply by swapping the processor “books” that contain the chips and memory. IBM software can also help to ease the process by allowing applications to run without any disruptions, the company said.
It also said POWER7 will be more efficient than the POWER6, which was launched in May 2007, capable of two to three times performance while using the same amount of energy.
Details on pricing were not yet available, but Handy said the company was planning the transition so there would be no penalty for buying POWER6 now and upgrading later.
Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Phil Berlowitz