WHITE P APER The Value of Memory-Dense Servers: IBMs System x MAX5 for Its eX5 Server Family Sponsored by: IBM Michelle Bailey March 2010 IDC OPINIONwww.idc.com The technology industry has reached a crossroads. After more than a decade of physical server sprawl, nearly exponential growth in storage, and a proliferation of network technologies, IT organizations are now facing tremendous challenges in planning for a future enterprise architecture that is less expensive, less complex, andF.508.935.4015 more agile than todays infrastructure. At the core of this reinvention is virtualization and, increasingly, a converged set of IT infrastructure that is built on a service-centric approach to supporting the business. This new technology cycle is squarely aimed at improving utilization rates, driving efficiency across the datacenter, and simplifying deployment and ongoing maintenance in order to ultimately shorten time to marketP.508.872.8200 and optimize the business value from IT investments. Many IT organizations are well on their way to creating a more flexible and responsive enterprise architecture. Server virtualization has quickly become mainstream and is the foundational platform for the datacenter. More than 50% of allGlobal Headquarters: 5 Speen Street Framingham, MA 01701 USA server workloads are now deployed on virtual machines, and this is driving a sea change in the types of technologies that IT organizations are procuring and configuring and their approach to IT processes and practices. We have already seen customers move toward more richly configured servers to maximize the number of virtual machines (VMs) consolidated per physical server. The correct balance of processor, memory, and I/O is critical in architecting an effective virtualization solution. Initially, the emphasis on building physical systems for virtual machines focused on multicore processors. However, with the maturity in virtualization, most IT organizations now report that the single greatest limiter in driving higher VM densities is tied to the amount of memory that their virtual machines can access. Servers that were previously built to support single applications have become inadequate in meeting the virtualization goals of customers. Prior to virtualization, only the most demanding workloads required high memory footprints — large databases, OLTP applications, and enterprise ERP and CRM solutions. Today, because each virtual machine requires its own memory to ensure consistent application performance, systems with large memory capabilities become essential. As a result, new x86-based servers are coming to market that can massively expand memory capacities.