Volume 15, Number 29 -- July 24, 2006

Reader Feedback: System i5 520 JDE EnterpriseOne Solution Edition Pricing

Published: July 24, 2006

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

While all of us (with the possible exception of business partners and resellers who are trying to make their profit numbers and sales quotas) cheer every time IBM does something to make the i5/OS and OS/400 platform more competitive, it is not always easy reckoning the best way to do it. Two readers offered some interesting comments, one with very precise experience running JDE software, which helped me make a more refined ProLiant configuration to compare to the System i5 box.

Great reporting on the i5 520 for JDE. I don't follow why user-based pricing does not work. DB2 on p5 is priced per user. Why not price i5/OS per user?

In your pricing comparison with a Windows server system, you based everything on systems that supported 100 users. What about configs that support 10 users? A branch office or a doctor's office. The Windows software price comes down, but the CPW performance stays high. The i5 equivalent is not competitive. CPW drops to 600 or 1,200 and i5/OS stays high.



Don't get me started, Stephen. . . . I might blow a gasket!

I intend to explain all this in the comparison stories I do each year. Starts next week. Stay tuned.


Hello. Your latest article comparing Wintel to the new i5 Solution Edition was fantastic. However, I did want to add a little something with regard to your I/O setup. I think you have underestimated the amount of random I/O incurred on a system running JDE. I don't think your eight 10K disks with a standard RAID controller are going to handle the load. I work for a real estate company running OneWorld Xe with a sustained 50 concurrent users and I have been slammed by my own underestimation of JDE I/O requirements.

We started out on an 1,600 CPW 4-way 720 with 30+ 8 GB drives and 4 GB RAM back in 2000. We upgraded the JDE server to an iSeries 270 in 2003. At the time, we had been considering moving to Wintel and IBM was able to keep us on board with the much the more economical Model 270. So, our new 270 was a 2-way with 2,350 CPW with 10 35 GB drives and 4.5 GB RAM. Immediately after the upgrade was complete and we started running our standard workloads, our drives maxed out at 100 percent busy and pretty much stayed there. I can send you a screenshot if you're interested. I've saved it because most IBM people I've talked to are always amazed and proclaim that they have never seen DASD work that hard.

Anyway, we jumped through many hoops trying to figure out what was what and finally realized that there was simply too much random I/O for the system to sustain (recall our first system had 30+ drives but less than 40) and our new system had just 10. In order to bring our DASD usage down to previous levels seen on the old 720, we bought the new 2757 RAID controller with 757 MB of write cache and eight more drives--maxing out our 270's internal cage at a total of 18 drives.

We are good today, but again, in order to support 50 concurrent AP/Financial/Real Estate users with all the typical reporting workloads that accompany such a system, we required 18 10K RPM drives with the 2757 controller.

I'm really not confident that your HP config with eight drives (and standard on-board RAID controller) would come anywhere near the I/O requirements of a 100-user JDE system. JDE tables are really not very normalized--they are quite wide sometimes--so it takes a lot of I/O to do anything in the system. Plus, the middleware is very chatty.

Just my two cents.

--Name Withheld by Request

Thanks for the note. I wasn't sure if it would be enough, to be honest, and I hedged on it and did what I think real customers would do. But you test ideas out, and then you get better information.

Send me that screenshot--I will run this letter and the shot, and reconfigure using a DL380 and a slightly faster MSA array than I put on the DL140 box. I suspect the price won't change all that much, oddly enough.


Regarding the reconfig, I agree that it won't make a huge difference in the Wintel world. In fact, I expected it to separate the iSeries from Wintel even farther. The 18 drives in our 270 cost $2,499 each and the controller was upward of $7,000 (I think--that is loosely based off memory) so the I/O subsystem was very expensive.

Also, SQL Server 2005 and the proliferation of multi-core processors are turning the tide in the favor of the Wintel architecture. In 2003, when we were decided Wintel vs. iSeries for our upgrade, dual core was not even part of the equation. Therefore, we would have been looking at a two-way or four-way (as in actual chips) Wintel box to match the 270. Furthermore, in order to utilize more than 2 GB of main memory for SQL Server, you had to go with the Enterprise Edition at $24,999 per processor. So, the Wintel box would have had a $50,000 to $100,000 SQL Server license. As you mentioned in your article, you could actually run a dual core proc with gobs of main memory for $5,999 instead of $50,000 as of today!

Good thing for the 270 that is so darn stable. We never have problems with it and I IPL it once or twice per year for good measure--thereby justifying its premium. . . right!? Well, for now we think so.

--Name Withheld by Request

OK. If we assume I/O will be an issue on the ProLiant DL380 as you suggest, then we need to add an MSA array to the DL380 box. I chose the MSA 30 array, and added eight 36 GB, 15 K RPM disks to it and a controller and cables to link it to the ProLiant. I also dropped the size of the eight integrated SAS disks to 36 GB, which cut some costs, since the prior configuration was based on 72 GB drives. Without any discounts, the price of the HP hardware goes to above $13,000, and the total configuration costs $31,930.

As you can see from the modified comparison table I created, this would allow my TPM iDeal i5 520 SE for EO to have the base server price tag rise by $1,700 to $4,700 and still match the exact price/performance of the HP ProLiant DL380 configuration. At list price, my way of pricing the i5 520 it is still cheaper than the ProLiant, and is so because I believe this machine does less a little less work. And the price/performance of my config and the HP setup is 28 percent lower than IBM's price/performance at list price for the real i5 520 SE for EO. That gap is way too large.



A Closer Look at the Economics of the Solution Edition for JDE

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Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik, Shannon O'Donnell,
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