If your funds are unlimited and raw horsepower/availability and performance drive your company, I would not question looking at an IBM System p solution, particularly if you already use the IBM flavor of Unix (AIX) in your company. One of the selling points of the IBM System p solution is that one can logically partition a System p server into both Unix and Linux partitions. The POWER6, IBM's new 4.7 GHz thoroughbred, just released this past month, has already broken many performance records. Oracle recently announced two of these, based on the two-tier SAP and Distribution model. It's important to note that these were broken on AIX and not Linux. Linux will run a little slower then AIX on System p, but still breathtakingly fast enough for most.
Before rushing in and buying the latest and greatest, look at publicly available benchmarks which will help you get a sense of what you can expect on your system. Do some system sizing and try to determine what your real needs are. Find out from your customers what translates into acceptable performance. The last thing you want to do is buy a Mercedes, when all you really needed was a Kia. The big selling point with Linux and Intel is that Linux can run on commodity hardware (PCs) which costs very little. Again, you'll need to determine the type of iron you can afford and acceptable performance thresholds. From there, you can then start to do some price comparisons and look at what infrastructure your IT department is best able to support.
This was first published in July 2007