IBM Offers Deals to Push iSeries and i5 Products
August 23, 2004 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Since May, the OS/400 community has had to absorb a lot of product announcements, pricing actions, and packaging changes in the wake of the eServer i5 announcements. While the new i5 iron and i5/OS offer considerably better bang for the buck than last year’s iSeries models, it still often takes a deal to grease the wheels of commerce. And that is why IBM continues to make little deals here and there on the OS/400 platform.
Last week, IBM revamped its perennial low-rate financing deal for the second-generation iSeries machines (Models 810, 825, 870, and 890) and the new eServer i5s (Models 520, 550, and 570). This low-rate financing promotion has been combined with a deferred payment plan, and it allows customers with squeaky-clean credit to finance new second-generation iSeries or i5 machines or upgrades from first-generation iSeries Model 820s, 830s, or 840s into these machines.
As with similar deals in the past, customers have to spend between $25,000 and $1 million, and can finance their gear for either 24 or 36 months. IBM will defer payments until January 2005, interest free. IBM jacked up the interest rates on the low-rate financing to 4 percent in July, following interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve Bank (and considerably more than the quarter-point rate hike the Fed implemented). The Fed has again raised interest rates, but IBM is holding the rates it charges its prime customers at 4 percent in the States. IBM cautions that customers who do not combine the low-rate option with the deferral option are subject to “more aggressive” financing rates, with terms ranging between 12 and 60 months, and with payments commencing the month after installation of the new OS/400 server or upgrade. IBM did not indicate what the “more aggressive” rate would be. Customers participating in the financing offer have to order before September 30, and they must install their equipment by October 31, putting the deal solidly in IBM’s fourth quarter.
Last week, IBM also announced a promotion on its iSeries and i5 High Availability and Capacity BackUp variants of these servers, which have lower price tags than regular iSeries and i5 machines and are intended to be used for high availability or archiving workloads running on production servers. This deal, which runs until January 12, 2005, provides rebates ranging from $4,500 to $242,000 on the iSeries High Availability editions based on the Model 810, 825, 870, and 890 servers, and from $4,500 to 185,000 on the i5 High Availability editions based on the Model 520 and 570 servers. IBM is offering a $23,000 rebate on the Model 825 Capacity BackUp edition, a $35,000 rebate on the Model 870 Capacity BackUp server, a $120,000 rebate on the Model 890 Capacity BackUp box, and a $53,000 rebate on the Model 570 Capacity BackUp machine.
IBM also announced last week that WebSphere Development Studio Client Advanced Edition for iSeries, one of the core WebSphere tools for this platform, is available, through its Passport Advantage software channel, to customers who buy a license to the tool plus a 12-month Software Maintenance contract under a special 30 percent discount. The discount will be applied to any order placed since August 10, and it runs until December 31. Because IBM is shifty about publishing software prices these days, I cannot tell you what the current price is for this software. (You know how I detest this sort of behavior, and I will endeavor to get a full collection of IBM iSeries software prices.) IBM’s Passport Advantage site is more a barrier to sales than it is a facilitator, as far as I can tell.
IBM has also cut the price on the 3580 Model L23 Ultrium 2 tape drive from $6,200 to $5,200, a decline of 16 percent. This drive supports 200 GB cartridges with 35 MB/sec data rates (twice that with compression). The company also chopped the price on these tape drives when equipped with an autoloader with eight cartridge slots, the 3581 Model L28. These devices now cost $7,999, down 10 percent.
Just a reminder: there are other IBM deals still cooking out there.
IBM is still promoting a free single processor license to Linux on iSeries Model 825, 870, and 890 servers, including six months of IBM tech support. You can pick Novell‘s SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 or Red Hat‘s Enterprise Linux Server AS 3. IBM is also touting its ServerProven rebates, which span from $500 to $128,000 across its server lines for customers who buy solutions with the ServerProven rating from Big Blue in conjunction with their new eServer machine. Inexplicably, IBM’s site is still promoting the advantages of the Model 800 server running OS/400 V5R2 Standard and Advanced Edition as part of an infrastructure management promotion. You would think that the eServer i5 Model 520, which offers much better bang for the buck and i5/OS V5R3, would be what IBM is pushing these days. All I can say is, I understand intimately how hard it is to keep a Web site up to date, but unlike us, IBM is a $90 billion corporation with IT resources coming out of its wazoo and content management software that it can use for free.