DataMirror Pushes iCluster, Transformation Server with Discounts
March 15, 2004 Timothy Prickett Morgan
With many more high-availability and data-transformation software makers in the AS/400 and iSeries market than only a few years ago, all of the players have to compete for attention from customers, to curry IBM‘s favor, and to fight hard to keep their accounts and extend that number. That sometimes means giving big discounts, which DataMirror has announced it will be doing.
Specifically, DataMirror has two deals running. The first promotion, called “HA Your Way,” includes two licenses to the company’s iCluster high availability clustering software, as well as implementation services, maintenance, training, and support, for $40,000. The deal runs until April 31. Rather than restricting the HA Your Way promotion to any particular model, DataMirror is targeting the deal at small and midsized businesses and says that any machine with less than 1,500 CPWs of raw iSeries power can partake of the deal. Customers who want to cluster machines with more than 1,500 CPWs can still do a deal, but the pricing is different (and is unpublished).
In a unique move, DataMirror is not requiring that customers buy new hardware as part of the deal. In the past, such high availability deals almost always had that stipulation, since IBM uses high availability software to drive hundreds of millions of new OS/400 server sales a year. Even DataMirror’s own “Simple HA for $60K” promotion, from February 2003, required customers to buy new gear. However, with the HA Your Way deal, customers with an existing production AS/400 or iSeries and any secondary machine can cluster the two and still get all the benefits from DataMirror.
Whether this is generosity on the part of DataMirror or the practical result of rumored frictions between IBM and DataMirror does not matter one iota to an OS/400 shop looking for inexpensive high availability software. That said, something is up, and no one at DataMirror or IBM is saying anything. The word on the street since the spring 2002 COMMON midrange trade show is that Big Blue was not entirely happy with DataMirror’s iCluster variant for EMC‘s Symmetrix storage arrays. In mid-February, IBM also announced that it had withdrawn DataMirror’s iCluster software, as well as its Transformation Server data transformation product, from the Developer Marketing Partnership’s Cooperative Software program, which is how IBM helps push software from third parties. Industry tongues have been wagging about both of these things lately.
As for the EMC issue, however, DataMirror has ported the software to IBM’s own Shark arrays, so if IBM’s nose is bent out of shape, it should get over it. As for the other issue, DataMirror’s desire to sell software and not tie it necessarily to new IBM hardware sales might be the real reason IBM has removed the DataMirror programs from that cooperative marketing arrangement. And if this is the real reason, I commend DataMirror. The hoops that IBM makes all of the high availability vendors jump through just so they can sell their products into the OS/400 market are ridiculous. A level playing field without IBM in the middle is what the OS/400 high availability market really needs. Then high availability vendors can sell their products based on their technical merit and their prices, not on whether they do things IBM’s way. HA your way, indeed. If anything, the high availability vendors ought to collectively bargain with the three iSeries master distributors and tell IBM to go jump into Silver Lake in downtown Rochester, Minnesota. Anything that lets OS/400 shops get high availability for a lot less money than IBM would have them spend on new hardware is a good thing for the installed base. That’s all I care about, and that’s all the customers care about.
The second DataMirror deal is called the “Right Time for Real Time,” and it is a competitive offering that allows customers using any data transformation product to move to Transformation Server or other related integration products at a 50 percent discount. According to sources at DataMirror, this deal is open-ended and is not restricted to competitors Accential Software, Informatica, Lakeview Technology, Vision Solutions, and others. As with the high availability promotion, customers do not have to buy a new iSeries server to get the discount, and it runs until April 31.