IBM Helps Users Migrate to Power6-Based System i Boxes
October 1, 2007 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Last week, IBM‘s Global Services group announced a new service for selected System i customers that may not only help Big Blue get some extra services dough, but may also grease the skids a little bit to help the company sell more of its Power6-based System i 570 servers, which were announced on July 24 and which started shipping on September 14.
With the Migration Services for System i offering, which was announced on September 25 and which is available worldwide beginning that day, IBM is offering customers with Power4, Power4+, Power5, and Power5+ machines some assistance in moving up to a new Power6 server. There are no restrictions on what the starting production machine to be upgraded or replaced can be under this service offering, but the final machine obviously has to be a Power6-based System i 570 server running i5/OS V5R4M5. This is the only Power6-based System i machine available today, and it is essentially the same box as the System p 570 that is running a modified version of AIX 5.3 that has been tweaked to support the Power6 processors but not all of the features of the new iron. Much as is the case with i5/OS V5R4M5. You have to wait until i5/OS V6R1 and AIX V6.1 to get full support for Power6 iron. Presumably, when IBM begins shipping a Power6-based blade server, which is expected before the end of this year running both i5/OS and AIX, this offering will be tweaked to include that blade server as well.
According to Tom Ready, vice president of worldwide services at Global Services, IBM examines various services opportunities for the i5/OS and OS/400 platform as technology changes happen for the platform, and based on the scope of the changes, it makes a decision to offer services or let the reseller channel and software developers handle it. “System i is always interesting for us because a lot of this kind of work is often done by resellers,” he says. In this case, because the scope is fairly limited, IBM decided to provide the migration service. Also, because IBM wants to speed up sales and it is the expert on Power6 machines, it makes sense to jump in at this time. However, Ready says that business partners can resell IBM’s service and get a cut of the action, too.
The migration service for the Power6-based System i 570 is comprised of a four-day consulting engagement. (Meaning it is four business days worth of time, or 32 hours, which can be spread out over many actual days.) IBM sends in some experts to case out the iron and software you currently have, looks at the capacity you are currently using, and then heads off to do some capacity planning to put you in the right sized Power6 configuration. Then IBM comes back and gives the IT staff a migration planning session and presumably helps with the configuration for the order. IBM’s services techies hang around and help with the documentation concerning the upgrade to the new Power6 iron and its required i5/OS V5R4M5 release. (Resellers or IBM technicians do the hardware upgrade, just as they normally do.) IBM also provides training for up to two IT staff personnel on operating and managing the Power6 server, but it is hard to imagine operations being all that different from a Power5 or Power5+ box.
What this migration service does not include is any prep work associated with the move to i5/OS V6R1, which is due in the first quarter of next year and which will run on Power4, Power5, and Power6 iron. However, Ready says that IBM is considering offering such a service, particularly since application conversions will in many cases be necessary as customers move to V6R1 on new Power6 or old Power4 and Power5 iron. But IBM Global Services has not, as yet, made up its mind on whether it will offer such V6R1 conversion and upgrade services. IBM may let the resellers handle it again.
As of press time, IBM had not yet provided a list price for the four days of consulting time used in this services engagement. If IBM is going to the trouble of creating a set of technical services with a fixed scope of work at a fixed price, it makes sense to actually publish the list price for the service so customers are not left to wondering whether or not they can afford this. But, IBM Global Services has never liked publishing prices. And neither do its competitors and partners for such work, either.