i5/OS V6R1 Compiler and Tool Pricing Versus V5R4
February 25, 2008 Timothy Prickett Morgan
A few weeks ago, IBM provided a product preview concerning the rejiggering of application development tools for the System i platform embodied in WebSphere Development Server (WDS) as well as a statement of direction about the eventual sunsetting of its WebSphere Development Studio Client (WDSC) development tool, which has been replaced by the new Rational Developer for System i (RDi) tool as part of the i5/OS V6R1 announcements. What IBM did not provide was pricing on this software–at least not to customers. But partners know.
While WDS and WDSC will be supported by IBM for at least two more years, according to George Farr, worldwide development product manager for tools and compilers for the System i platform at the Rational division, the company will be withdrawing both from marketing as soon as i5/OS V6R1 starts shipping on March 21. (See WDSC Is Out, Rational Developer for System i Is In for how WDS has been componentized and how WDSC has been replaced by RDi.) So whether System i customers like it or not, they are going to be moving to the new development tools if they move to V6R1, and even those diehard customers who say they will stick with earlier operating system releases to avoid the move will run out of time. OS/400 V5R3 is already being sunsetted (support will be withdrawn on April 29, 2009), and eventually i5/OS V5R4 will meet a similar fate. So it is not a matter of if customers will move, but when, which is no different from the situation when WDS and WDSC were announced eight years ago, replacing earlier tools that AS/400 and iSeries shops were accustomed to.
Whether or not customers are happy with the changes IBM has made to its development tools for the System i platform depends largely on two things: How technically slick the products are and what IBM is charging for the server-side compilers and the workstation-side development tools. I will leave it to the techies over at Four Hundred Guru to assess the new compiler set and the RDi and RDi for SOA tools. What I can tell you about today–and which IBM has not yet told customers about–is how the compiler set is going to be priced and how the compiler and RDi combination stacks up against the WDS and WDSC combination.
The first big pricing shift, which I explained two weeks ago, is that IBM is shifting from tiered pricing on the core System i development tools to a per-developer price. Because IBM has already announced RDi, Farr was able to provide per-seat pricing on the Eclipse-based development tool, which is $795 a pop. (This is not in the announcement letter for the RDi V7.1 product, which goes by the product number 5733-RDI in the IBM catalog and which should always include list prices.) WDSC V7.0 was technically included in the bundle of WDS V7.0, but is given a nominal price of $1,500; the WDSC Advanced Edition product, which included application diagramming functions and a screen designer as add-ons, cost $4,500. This additional fee annoyed plenty of people last year, but now the WSDC AE functions are built into the base RDi product. The big difference, of course, is that WSDC and WDSC AE were priced based on an unlimited number of users, while RDi will charge for each developer who touches the product. (I’ll take a look at the effect of this in a second. Hold on.)
On the server side of the System i developer equation, WDS has been replaced by three different programs: the ILE Compiler set, the Heritage Compiler set, and the Advanced Development Tool Set (ADST). The ILE Compiler set will include ILE RPG, ILE COBOL, ILE C, ILE C++, and IXL C for C/C++; it also has the *PRV compilers for ILE RPG and ILE COBOL. The Heritage Compilers will include the System/36 compatible RPG and COBOL compilers, the System/38 compatible RPG II and COBOL compilers, RPG/400 (sometimes called RPG III and the first AS/400 native RPG compiler), OPM COBOL (the first AS/400 native COBOL compiler). ADTS will remain the same. The information I have says that these new compilers will still be called WebSphere Development Studio (with a product number 5761-WDS), which is a bit of a mystery. WebSphere has nadda to do with these compilers and tools, and Rational Development Server for i5/OS seems like a more logical name for the stack. The Heritage Compilers are feature 1511, the ILE Compilers are feature 1602, and the ADTS product is feature 1512.
According to the information I have obtained from business partners, IBM will charge $1,295 per developer for access to the Heritage Compilers, $1,795 per developer for access to the ILE Compilers, and $795 per developer for access to the ADTS tool. So a customer who wants the RDi tool plus all of the compilers and the ADTS set will pony up $4,680 for the whole tool stack–and do so for every developer on the box.
WDS V7.0 pricing is tier-based and more complex. Take a look:
As you can see, WDS can get pretty pricey on midrange and larger iSeries and System i servers. But big iSeries and System i shops tend to have lots of programmers managing and creating thousands of applications, so all comes out in the wash, I suppose. To help get my brain wrapped around how the packing and price changes will affect OS/400 and i5/OS shops looking to upgrade to V6R1 and the new tools, I made this other table. In this one, I have taken the cost of the complete new V6R1 stack–RDi plus the two compiler sets and ADTS–and divided that cost into the price of the WDS plus WDSC stack. I did not make the comparison using WDSC AE, which was too rich for most developers’ blood, but I did the comparison with the full WDS set, including Standard Edition, Development Manager, and Dictionary Services. Take a gander at that:
Shops in the P05 tier with one programmer are going to see what amounts to a price increase to get a similar new stack of software. This is important for customers who are new to the platform and who might be using RPG or COBOL applications that require the development tools to be deployed. (One ISV contacted me last week and saying that its software did indeed require these compilers on the new boxes it sells to new i5/OS shops, and that its sales were particularly affected by any increase in the software stack price.) As you can see from this table, a P05 shop just using WDS Standard Edition paid only 75 percent of the cost it would pay for a single user on the new RDi, compiler, and ADTS stack. The price of WDS Standard Edition alone on a P10 machine is roughly the same as two users of the new stack, on the P10 is a little less than the cost of five users, and so on. Adding in Development Manager and Dictionary Services to WDS Standard Edition makes the comparisons a little more favorable–meaning, it looks like you can get more users for the money relative to the old pricing for WDS and WDSC.
The important thing about the new pricing for the new development software stack is that customers will pay for the number of developers they have on their system. So a customer with a large System i box but relatively few programmers is going to be spending a lot less money. Ditto for shops who are using third-party application software but who nonetheless need the compilers on the machine to compile those applications. But small shops on small boxes who were just grabbing WDS Standard Edition for the basic compilers are going to be paying more–and this is particularly true on new boxes, where IBM apparently is tossing in WDS Standard Edition at half price, according to this ISV.
That was news to me. And if this is true, then the simplest way for IBM to solve the issue would be to give ISVs the new development tool stack at half price as well if they are bringing new customers to the System i fold.