eServer i5 Solution Editions Hit the Streets
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
When IBM launched the eServer i5 Model 550 midrange server and revamped its pricing across the eServer i5 line, in August, it also debuted a discounted version of the Model 550 called the Solution Edition. The first of these i5 machines, which give buyers decent discounts if they are using them to run popular third-party OS/400 application software, are now hitting the street. PeopleSoft and Integrated Distribution Solutions are the first companies to launch the machines.
The i5 Model 550 is the four-way member of the Power5 "Squadron" server family, sitting between the two-way Model 520 (which is also available in relatively low-cost uniprocessor configurations called the Model 520 Express) and the Model 570, which expands from two to 16 processors, using system clustering technology very similar to that used in IBM's X86-based "Summit" line of xSeries servers. The Model 550 uses 1.65 GHz Power5 processors and spans from 3,300 to 12,000 CPWs of raw computing power. It can have up to 64 GB of main memory and support up to 548 disk drives or 38 TB of disk capacity. The machine supports up to 40 logical partitions and has two HSL-2 I/O loops.
Because IBM wants to attract new customers and new applications to the i5 fold, all Model 550 machines (include those running i5/OS Solution Edition) are in a lower OS/400 software tier than you might think. The Model 550s are in the P20 tier, while big Model 520s and small Model 570s are both in the P30 tier. This can save customers a lot of money when buying application software, which is generally priced by OS/400 tier. And the Solution Edition, which has full 5250 green-screen capabilities, includes a discount, which saves money on initial hardware and systems software costs. A base Model 550 running i5/OS Enterprise Edition costs $266,000 with two Power5 cores activated and one of them with an i5/OS license; the Solution Edition of this machine costs only $206,000. The $60,000 difference is not purely a discount, however. IBM has removed some OS/400 features that midrange shops buying ERP software typically do not require, including DB2 Symmetric Multiprocessing, Tivoli Storage Manager, Tivoli Monitoring, and a few other items. The result is a machine with a 23 percent lower initial price and a much lower software tier.
Back in August, when IBM announced the Model 550 with i5/OS Solution Edition, the company had a limited roster of ISVs that had been allowed to sell solutions on these boxes. These included PeopleSoft and Integrated Distribution Solutions as well as Clear Technologies, International Business Systems, Intentia International, Lawson Software, Manhattan Associates, MAPICS, and SSA Global.
PeopleSoft, by virtue of its acquisition of J.D. Edwards last year, has been keen on promoting its RPG-based World ERP suite on the new Power5 boxes. At the initial Power5 server launch, in May, PeopleSoft and IBM cooked up the PeopleSoft World Express bundle, which included an eServer i5 Model 520 Express server and the full World ERP suite, with a base sticker price of $50,000. The Solution Edition seems to have codified this World Express offering and broadened it to a number of other ISVs. The Solution Edition i550 for PeopleSoft has one processor activated for i5/OS, one 5250 enterprise enablement feature, an Integrated xSeries Server co-processor, a 40-seat license to IBM's WebSphere Portal Express Plus, an extra Power5 core activation, and DB2 Query Manager and SQL Developer Toolkit. It does not include the World applications themselves, but it does include vouchers for AIX or Linux operating systems, Windows integration services, or WebSphere software. Pricing for this box is based on PeopleSoft's value-based pricing, which is a complex equation that looks at company revenue, employee count, and other salient business characteristics to determine a price. PeopleSoft says that it will get back to me to try to give me a sense of the range of prices for this offering.
Integrated Distribution Solutions has also jumped into the Solution Edition fray, with its i550 Solution Edition for IDS Power Enterprise. The basic configuration of the i5 Model 550 remains the same (including the vouchers). While PeopleSoft World is a generic ERP solution (with a heavy emphasis in manufacturing and distribution), Power Enterprise is aimed at the food and consumer goods distribution business.