Rackable Systems (RACK) will offer customers the option of packing its ICE Cube data center container with IBM BladeCenter servers, the two companies said today. The move is the latest step toward a more open approach to containers and will provide more choice to customers shopping for containers. It may also focus attention on container design as a differentiator between the growing number of vendor options.
Rackable previously had only offered the ICE Cube container with its own custom rackmount servers, following the lead of the Sun MD (Blackbox) from Sun Microsystems' (JAVA). Subsequent products from Verari Systems and HP have offered the option of packing other vendors' gear in their containers.
In a conference call with analysts in May, Rackable CEO Mark Barrenechea discussed the ICE Cube as a "deployment option" - another form factor for Rackable's customers. The new agreement, in which IBM BladeCenter will be the only blade server platform available for custom ICE Cube implementations, reflects a more strategic approach to the container.
"Rackable Systems sees this strategic relationship as a further opportunity to provide our customers with unique, built-to-order solutions," said Barrenechea. "Including IBM BladeCenter in ICE Cube enables Rackable to expand its market reach to new customers, new fault tolerant workloads and new markets seeking products that meet NEBS requirements."
Apparently there were no hard feelings from Rackable's 1Q conference call, when Barrenechea described IBM as "very expensive and inflexible" and critiqued IBM's introduction of iDataPlex, a new server similar in design to Rackable's half-depth server.
Alex Yost, vice president of IBM BladeCenter, said today's announcement with "highlights the industry leading density and energy efficiency BladeCenter provides," and provides "further evidence of the primacy of BladeCenter's design, strong customer demand for the product and IBM's commitment to foster an open ecosystem around it."
As competition in the cloud computing market heats up, the ecosystem is seeing some interesting forms of "coopetition."