IBM Delivers Entry Capacity BackUp Machines, As Promised
October 16, 2006 Timothy Prickett Morgan
For a couple of months now, executives in IBM‘s System i division have been hinting that there were plans afoot for stretching the Capacity BackUp (CBU) variants of the i5 line down into the entry part of the product catalog. And last week, that is exactly what IBM did.
The Capacity BackUp servers were originally announced as a hot-standby machine to support data and application replication workloads and do pretty much nothing else. Because they did nothing else, they cost a lot less than a regular Enterprise Edition iSeries or i5 box. But, customers wanted IBM to make some changes. First and foremost, customers and their high availability software partners wanted smaller machines so companies of all sizes could take advantage of CBUs, not just shops with big i5 570s or i5 595s.
Back in August, when IBM added CBU variants of the i5 550 and added a few more configurations of the of the i5 570 and i5 595 machines to the CBU subset of the System i line, I went through in great detail the changes that IBM had made to the CBU machines. I will briefly mention the high points of these changes. Unlike with the prior two generations of CBUs, those i5 CBUs using Power5+ processors (and in the case of the i5 595, Power5 processors) can have their processor cores permanently activated if customers want to use them to do real work. Prior CBUs did not allow this. IBM also added Standard Edition variants to the CBU lineup, so customers running production i5 Standard Edition machines did not pay for 5250 green-screen capacity that they did not actually use in the CBU.
Last Tuesday, IBM announced five new i5 520 CBU machines, which are based on various i5 520 Express and Standard Edition configurations. The variants of the Express machines support 5250 workloads, while the Standard Edition variants do not. (You can see a comparison table of the i5 CBU editions by clicking here.) With the addition of the five new CBUs, IBM and its HA partners can now deliver a suitable backup box to i5 520 customers who have modest or no 5250 processing needs. Considering that the vast majority of i5 shipments (in excess of 96 percent in 2005) were for i5 520 boxes, these variants of the CBU have been a long time in coming.
With price tags ranging from $29,000 to $85,000 (including a year’s worth of Software Maintenance), these new i5 520 CBUs are in the right ballpark to meet the budgets of small i5/OS shops that want to eliminate their downtime, just like the big shops. The HA vendors have done a good job expanding their portfolio of products and lowering the price, and it is good to see IBM matching their competitiveness with its own entry CBU hardware.