IBM will reposition its AS/ 400 platform as an electronic commerce machine next week, as the manufacturer attempts to step up the fight against Hewlett Packard and Sun.
According to a source close to IBM, the manufacturer will rename the AS/400 range the AS/400e ? standing for e-business ? on 18 August.
The relaunch will introduce a machine that includes the Netscape browser and supports basic Web tools such as http, CGI and software to port the AS/400?s native RPG code to the HTML standard.
Sources confirmed that other machines will appear later in the year, including Lotus Domino servers and a Java virtual machine.
But Big Blue was tight-lipped about how the changes will affect its channel partners for the AS/400, because the company has not yet decided whether it will continue to use existing partners to push the revamped machines.
According to one US source, the AS/400e range will be powered by 180MHz and 250MHz Apache Power PC microprocessors, which are expected to arrive at the beginning of next year. The machines will then scale up to 12 microprocessors, with eventual clock speeds as fast as 500MHz.
However, until the product is available next year, IBM will make do with an interim eight-way machine. The revamped AS/400 boxes will also get a refresh and will be fitted with PCI buses.
IBM?s move to increase the scalability of the AS/400 will put the manufacturer in a much stronger position to challenge both the HP and Sun lines of mid-range servers.
The AS/400 makeover follows last month?s upgrade of the range and the revelation that AS/400 will support NT ? a significant U-turn in Big Blue?s strategy.
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