IBM Offers Integrated Server and Storage Support
February 25, 2008 Timothy Prickett Morgan
In case you didn’t catch it, the big buyers of mainframes and high-end Power servers have been shaping IBM‘s product strategies for the past couple of years, despite all of the jawboning at Big Blue about the importance of the small and medium business server market. The truth is that there have always been at least two IBMs: one that served mainframe shops and one that serves midrange shops, and as much as IBM wants to change product and divisional names and related product strategies, it always comes to the same conclusions.
The reason why IBM created the Power Systems division last year, merging the hardware and systems software lines of its System p Unix and System i proprietary servers into a single product, is to give these product lines the kind of focus and packaging that larger enterprises require. (For SMB shops, IBM has created the Business Systems division, which has little to show for a year’s work so far except two general managers and some hints at products; to be fair, a lot could be going on inside Big Blue with Business Systems and we just are not aware of it yet.) What the big Power and mainframe shops have been telling IBM is that they want consistent pricing and packaging on the big boxes they drop into their shops.
To that end, IBM last week announced Integrated Support, which as the name suggests wraps up break/fix warranty support for System i, System p, System x, System z, and TotalStorage storage products and technical support for i5/OS, OS/400, AIX, Linux, Windows, and z/OS operating systems all under a single unified contract. Customers have to have 24×7 support contracts on these various products to get Integrated Support, and then Big Blue will roll together its Software Maintenance, SupportLine, and SoftwareXcel Enterprise Edition software support contracts with its Hardware Maintenance and Warranty Service Upgrade support for hardware. (Yes, I know that Software Maintenance includes hardware support for the System i and System p platforms.) By moving to Integrated Support, a company not only gets a single support contract, but gets a single, dedicated entry point into IBM’s support organization, which then routes system and software administrators through the proper tech support channels in the massive Global Services and Systems Group tech support organizations.
On the hardware side, Integrated Support includes remote technical by phone or through electronic links; onsite repair with 24×7 same-day response; problem determination and problem source identification; and replacement parts for failed components. On the software side, Integrated Support provides answers concerning usage and installation of software; problem identification and resolution for software crashes; answers to questions about product compatibility and interoperability; diagnoses crashes to isolate the cause of problems; assists with software configuration; does standard defect reporting and resolution for bugs; and provides new versions and release updates for selected IBM operating systems. (IBM didn’t say which ones, but there are only three that matter: i5/OS, AIX, and z/OS.
IBM did not provide pricing for Integrated Support, and it is unclear how the price is being created for such a complex service. IBM could do it by counting boxes and adding up individual support, and then providing a volume discount because customers put lots of machines under maintenance.