IBM Raises iSeries Maintenance Prices
February 20, 2006 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Whenever times get tough, all server makers are tempted to raise maintenance prices, and they usually succumb to that temptation. And, as part of the System i5 announcements three weeks ago, IBM raised charges for its Enterprise Service Agreement (ESA) onsite, 24×7 support and Minimum Monthly Maintenance Charge (MMMC) 24×7, and IBM onsite repair maintenance fees on selected iSeries gear. Across all of the features that saw their maintenance charges rise, the price increases for maintenance averaged about 19 percent, which is a pretty steep rise. But not every feature that carries an ESA or MMMC charge in the iSeries line had its prices tweaked upward, so the net effect on the maintenance bill will probably be a lot smaller than that.
If you want to see the detailed feature list of the gear that had its maintenance fees increases, see the ESA maintenance price increase announcement and the MMMC price increase announcement. The price increases most likely to affect i5 shops are the feature 5074 and 5094 expansion chasses, with prices up 18 percent to $408 a month for ESA support and up 18 percent to $466 a month. (It is just incredible to me that it costs this much to get maintenance on a chassis. When IBM says the feature cards do not have maintenance charges, this is not exactly honest. You pay by chassis instead of by card.) Feature 5079 and 5294 expansion boxes saw their ESA prices rise by 17 and 19 percent to the same price of $1,776 per month, while MMMC charges rose by the same amounts to $2,025 per month.
The last time that IBM raised maintenance fees for AS/400 machines was in March 2003, when it jacked up prices across the board on AS/400 B, C, D, E, F, CISC AS (2XX and 3XX), first generation RISC AS (4XX and 5XX), AS/400e SXX and 6XX, and AS/400 7XX machines by 5 to 6 percent. Vintage AS/400s also saw maintenance prices increase by 9 percent in 1999, and in April 1996, IBM raised maintenance fees on System 36 gear by 15 percent and on vintage AS/400 gear by 9 to 13 percent. Because IBM has rolled together SupportLine services and MMMC maintenance to create Software Maintenance for the iSeries and i5 line, IBM cannot raise prices on the basic server maintenance without raising Software Maintenance prices. That seems to be why these popular features have seen such relatively large fee increases in 2006. But IBM could turn around and raise Software Maintenance fees if times get tough, though.