IBM Launches Express Bundles to Push iSeries Sales
May 3, 2004 Timothy Prickett Morgan
IBM is expected to refresh its iSeries midrange server line soon with Power5-based servers, and two weeks ago it slashed prices on existing iSeries machines to help keep sales humming until the new ones arrive. But price cuts can only do so much to keep the iSeries channel booking sales. And that is why IBM last week announced a set of so-called Express bundles that will make it easier for its sales reps and channel partners to sell existing and future iSeries machines.
While last week’s announcements will focus on the iSeries, according to Joanne Duguid, vice president of eServer SMB marketing at IBM, the company has some 45 Express bundles of hardware, software, and services across all of its product lines and will in the next several weeks roll out another 15 bundles on various eServer products.
To become an Express solution, a product has to be installable in five mouse clicks or less, it has to be modular and scalable, and must be sellable by partners. A big portion of iSeries and pSeries server sales (in the range of 80 percent), and an increasing portion of xSeries sales, come through the IBM channel. The Express bundles lower the price for customers who buy a solution (rather than a piece of hardware) with discounts off the price of components bought separately and increases margins for business partners, which can easily configure and sell the solution, rather than chase box sales.
Even in small companies, the iSeries and its predecessor, the AS/400, is generally the main bean-counting and data-processing engine, which is why high availability clustering has been a traditional focus for the OS/400 platform for nearly a decade and a half. One of the more interesting Express bundles announced last week is the High Availability Express Solution on iSeries, which is comprised of an existing iSeries Model 810 server (which uses IBM’s 64-bit S-Star PowerPC processor), OS/400 software, plus high availability software from IBM’s six core high-availability software partners (DataMirror, iTera, Lakeview Technology, Maximum Availability, Trader’s, and Vision Solutions). The bundle includes a year’s worth of maintenance and 24/7 tech support. The base HA Express bundle will cost $51,000, and through IBM’s Global Financing arm midrange customers can lease the bundle over 36 months for as little as $1,935 per month. This is well within the budgetary possibilities for even the most penny-pinching of OS/400 shops.
The iSeries Infrastructure Management Express bundle takes an iSeries Model 800 running OS/400 Standard Edition or Advanced Edition and bundles in Integrated xSeries Server (IxS) co-processors running Windows 2000 or Windows 2003. This Express bundle includes server consolidation and migration planning services (provided by IBM or its partners), along with prepaid tech support and maintenance. Customers that opt for Linux on iSeries partitions get a standard Linux support contract from Red Hat or SuSE thrown in and one day of Linux implementation services. The whole shebang comes with a $30,000 list price on the base Model 800 with OS/400 Standard Edition, and with 36-month financing, customers can pick up a new iSeries box and install Windows and Linux apps on it for as little as $775 per month, says Duguid. IBM will even take away an aging AS/400 server to the recycler, free of charge.
IBM is also announcing something called Network Operations and Management Services, an Express services deal that has IBM technicians monitor your network 24/7, tracking problems as they arise and updating software with patches as necessary. IBM provides customers with monthly network status reports, as well as an online portal that lets them see the status of their network in real time. The Infrastructure Recovery Services offering is a related Express bundle and is a first-step in helping midrange shops to create disaster-recovery plans. The service includes a two-day workshop for recovery planning and provides a pre-configured iSeries or pSeries server that IBM will ship to the customer in the event of a disaster. Pricing on these last two Express bundles was not available at press time.