But Wait, There's More
IBM Finally Launches Those Sweetened iSeries Financing Deals
A few months ago, I caught wind that IBM would be releasing some iSeries-specific financing deals that are a little bit sweeter than the Low Rate Financing offering that it currently has on the books for its entire product line of hardware, software, and services. IBM announced those deals on April 19.
Specifically, the eServer i5 Upgrade Deferral Plus Enhanced Upgrade Financing deal, which expires June 15, will give customers who upgrade from certain iSeries machines to i5s or buy new replacements for their existing boxes financing rates as low as 2.3 percent (quite a bit less than the 4.1 percent rate of the current Low Rate Financing deal) as well as no payments and no interest for 90 days following the deal. To get this low rate and the deferred payments and interest, customers can do a box swap and replace an iSeries 270 with an i5 520, 550, 570, or 595 (most customers will pick an i5 520, some an i5 550), or they can upgrade a first-generation iSeries 820, 830, or 840 to any of the i5 models. These financing deals can span from $1,000 to $1 million and have 24- to 36-month terms. Canadian customers have to buy from $25,000 to $1 million Canadian of gear, but they can get a 2 percent rate. This deal expires June 15, so IBM is clearly trying to boost its second quarter iSeries sales. A second deal that is identical, except that it does not have the deferred payment scheme, runs until September 18. That's to help iSeries sales in the third quarter.
iSeries-i5/OS Combo to Get Common Criteria Certification
Because everyone is conscious about security these days, getting certified for the Common Criteria is what most platform providers are shooting for. The Common Criteria certification is the result of the merging of security standards from North American and European governments, and it is used to separate products that have demonstrated their security, as audited by expert third parties, from those products that cannot or have not attained the certification. The scheme has four different security ratings, known as Evaluated Assurance Levels (EALs). The most secure platforms today are at the EAL 4 or higher level (which is called EAL4+ instead of EAL5), and sources at IBM say the company is working on getting the iSeries and i5/OS certified at the EAL4 level. This will be the first time that OS/400 has CC certification, and sources at IBM say it should be relatively straightforward, given the high security inherent in the iSeries products.
IBM Extends Sub-Capacity Software Pricing
In a world of virtual machines and logical partitioning, per-CPU or per-system software pricing doesn't make a lot of sense. The zSeries and iSeries divisions of IBM were innovators with what the company calls sub-capacity pricing for software--meaning you price software based on fractions of the cost for a single processor--and other IBM divisions are now offering sub-capacity software pricing, too.
Under this offering, programs acquired through IBM's Passport Advantage software channel can be acquired with sub-capacity pricing. To use this pricing, however, you also have to use IBM's Tivoli License Manager, which watches how you use the software and makes sure you stay compliant with the terms of your license agreement. IBM is offering its WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere MQ messaging middleware, WebSphere Portal, and other WebSphere products with this sub-capacity licensing; the TXSeries transaction monitoring software as well as its DB2 Universal Database 8.2 and related software (such as DB2 Data Links Manager and Net Search Extender) can be bought using this licensing, too.
As far as platforms go, this software can run on OS/400 V5R2 and i5/OS V5R3 in logical partitions; AIX 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3 in logical partitions; on Linux on zSeries inside VM guest environments or within zSeries logical partitions; on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 and Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 and 9 on Power-based iSeries and pSeries platforms; on Solaris 8 and 9 dynamic domains (which are logical partitions that are only granular to the cell board level, not the CPU level and certainly not to the sub-CPU level); on HP-UX 11i nPar hard partitions but not on its vPar virtual partitions. IBM says it is working on sub-capacity pricing and metering mechanisms for virtual machine partitions for Windows and Linux slices on X86 servers, supporting both VMware and Microsoft Virtual Server partitions.
VCs That Bought WRQ Acquire Competitor Attachmate
Back in December 2004, a group of venture capitalists got together and bought host connectivity software maker WRQ, of Seattle, and now, they have eaten rival Attachmate, of nearby Belleview. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, because WRQ is a privately held company and is owned by three venture capitalists: Golden Gate Capital, Francisco Partners, and Thoma Cressey Equity Partners. The deal is expected to close next month, and it will create a company with approximately $200 million in sales. After the deal is done, Frank Pitt, Attachmate's founder, will retire. Jeff Hawn, currently chairman of WRQ, will become chairman, CEO, and president of the merged firm. How the two firms will merge their product lines and personnel remains a bit of a mystery, thanks to WRQ being a private company. By the way, Doug Walker, the W in WRQ, retired after he sold his company to the VCs as well. This is a tough business, and these guys have been at it for decades.
The iSeries Gets a New Cryptographic Processor
As part of the April 12 iSeries announcements, IBM has announced a new cryptographic co-processor for the iSeries--and one that does not require that it be plugged into an IOP adapter first. The new feature 4806 co-processor for encrypting and decrypting data on the iSeries plugs into a PCI-X slot and hooks right into the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) software inside OS/400 and i5/OS. It costs $9,000.
Aldon Opens Two Offices in Germany
Software change management maker Aldon has announced it has opened two new offices in Germany to help it better chase business. Germany is obviously a country where there are a lot of manufacturers, distributors and financial services companies, and traditionally has been a very strong market for IBM midrange platforms for the past three decades. German companies and governments were also quick to endorse Unix a decade ago, and have been strong adopters of Linux in recent years. This makes the German market a good place for Aldon to pursue business opportunities, because Aldon earlier this year began supporting AIX and Linux with its Lifecycle Manager 5.0 software change management system in addition to support for OS/400 and i5/OS. The company opened its offices in Munich and Cologne, and has an existing office outside of London in the suburb of Surrey. Aldon's international headquarters is in Toronto.
IBM Assures Us the iSeries Tools Innovation Program is Growing
A few weeks ago, a story ran in this column stressing the importance of IBM keeping things moving in its iSeries Initiative for Innovation program (see "Momentum is Key for iSeries Initiative for Innovation"). Since we hadn't seen any new ISVs participating in one key area of the initiative--the Tools Innovation program--since it had started, we felt the need to pipe up to tell Big Blue that we're all counting on it to keep its fire white hot.
Not surprisingly, IBM didn't particularly care for the piece, and it had a legitimate beef. As it turns out, some new ISVs had, in fact, joined the Tools Innovation program since it was launched in February, bringing the total number of ISVs in the Tools Innovation program to 69. We weren't aware of this when we wrote the "Momentum is Key" piece because IBM doesn't publicize the names of the ISVs or the number of vendors participating in the Tools Innovation program (something it is looking to change). The names of the 60 ISVs that we quoted in our piece was culled from IBM's new-and-improved iSeries Developer's Roadmap, which it unveiled as part of its Tools Innovation program and which is available online for everybody to look at here.
But, as we learned, the list of ISVs on this roadmap is a subset of ISVs participating in the Tools Innovation program, because the ISVs on the roadmap are Tools Innovation members that have had their offerings certified by IBM as ServerProven. At any one time, there are some new Tools Innovation members who haven't yet achieved ServerProven status.
John Quarantello, the iSeries executive in charge of the Tools Innovation program, understands that navigating IBM's various ISV programs can be a daunting task. After all, IBM is adding new things like the Tools Innovation and Application Innovation to existing programs like the eServer Tools Network, the PartnerWorld Industry Network, the Solutions Connection, and, of course, the ServerProven program. Who's to make heads or tails of all this? The answer is Quarantello. He spends the bulk of his days working with ISVs, helping them to make their way through the maze of IBM programs, to ensure they qualify for whatever technical and financial assistance they have coming from IBM. When he has time, he also recruits new ISVs to the Tools Innovation program (the goal is to have at least 100 members by year's end). Quarantello says IBM is earnest in its desire to build good relations with its ISVs and to keep them satisfied. "They're getting more attention than they did before. So I think they're happy," he says.
IBM recently assigned another iSeries veteran, Linda Cole, to work with Quarantello to keep the tools vendors informed about IBM programs--to keep them happy, which is to keep them Blue (and specifically not part of the Microsoft Midrange Alliance). Quarantello says he and Cole will be implementing some ideas for improving the program, particularly changes to the roadmap. Specifically, the roadmap will be more granular in nature, with new subcategories that will make it easier to discern a tool used for printing versus a tool used for re-facing, for example. The roadmap will also be broken down by geographic regions. But what's most exciting is there might be a new tab on the roadmap that lists the ISVs who are members of the Tools Innovation program--so at last we'll be able to track unequivocally the growth of this important iSeries program.