WebSphere Commerce Server Comes to IBM i
July 27, 2010 Alex Woodie
IBM last week announced that its flagship e-commerce software package, WebSphere Commerce version 7.0, will now run natively on the IBM i 6.1 and 7.1 operating systems. The move offers IBM i customers three new e-commerce product options for hosting business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce websites on their System i or Power Systems servers.
WebSphere Commerce is a respected family of products that allows companies of all sizes to set up and manage their own customized e-commerce storefronts on the World Wide Web. The software, which has received kudos from Gartner and AMR Research, comes with pre-packaged and integrated capabilities, including search engines, shopping carts, order management, catalog management, merchandising, marketing, analytics, and customer and supplier relationship management.
Version 7.0, which IBM launched during the fourth quarter of 2009, brought some compelling new features, such as the capabilities to support customers using smartphones to browse items and even complete transactions. This release also integrates with social media sites to make it easy for retailers to incorporate product reviews.
New cross-channel capabilities in version 7.0 are aimed at establishing communication with customers who, for example, abandon a shopping cart.. IBM also improved its B2B and B2C “starter stores,” which are pre-configured templates that WebSphere Commerce users can use to get going quickly. The starter store templates are based on AJAX and use Dojo toolkit widgets.
WebSphere Commerce Express provides a good building block for companies (with 1,000 employees or fewer) that are just starting to form their online presence. It’s worth noting that IBM enabled IBM i to run the entry-level WebSphere Commerce Express product. This is a bit surprising, considering that AIX is not supported on this product; only IBM i, Windows, and Linux can run WebSphere Commerce Express. Express can also be downloaded; other versions must be ordered on optical media.
The Professional and Enterprise versions of WebSphere Commerce offer more features and scalability than the Express version. The Professional version adds things like the sales center add-on (used for cross channel selling in a call center), a product recommendation engine, support for auctions, marketing features, cross-channel order processing, and Rational Application Developer workspaces. (The sales center add-on does not run on IBM i, but IBM supports running this software on Windows and connecting to WebSphere Commerce on IBM i.)
The Enterprise edition is the most scalable, and builds on the Professional edition with features like support for Software as a Service (SaaS) hosting, support for contracts and RFQs, support for business accounts and requisition lists, support for “punch outs,” B2B starter stores, and tools for managing advanced roles and relationships.
IBM charges for WebSphere Commerce using its Processor Value Unit (PVU) rating system; sub-capacity pricing is apparently not available anymore. Under its PVU system, IBM assigns a different value to the individual cores running on a chip, and customers then use that number as a multiple for figuring out their final charge, based on how many individual cores they will use to run the software. IBM’s PVU pricing guide reflects the PVU ratings of various Power, X64, and mainframe processors.
For the WebSphere Commerce Express software, IBM charges $299 for every PVU the customer wants to use to run the software. According to IBM’s PVU guide, each core on a Power 6-equipped System i Model 520 (a very popular entry-level AS/400) has a low PVU rating of 80. So, by multiplying $299 by 80 PVUs, you will see that it will cost $23,920 to get a license to run WebSphere Commerce Express on a single core of a Model 520 server, or $47,840 to run on both cores of a single socket. Developer licenses for Express are $4,600.
Customers running a larger Model 550 (with a high PVU rating of 120) can run the software on only a single core, because there is a limit of 200 PVUs for WebSphere Commerce Server, as well as a single store limit.
Each PVU for WebSphere Commerce Professional costs $1,130, brining the cost of running this product to $113,000 for a typical processor core rated at 100, such as a Power 7-equipped Model 750, all Power 4 and Power 5 processors, and some multi-core Intel Xeon Nehalem processors. This edition doesn’t have a maximum PVU limit before customers must upgrade to Enterprise, but they must be paying for at least 100 PVUs for every individual Web storefront. Developer licenses for Professional cost $21,300 per seat. Each PVU for WebSphere Commerce Enterprise costs $1,820, bringing a minimum configuration to a price of $182,000 on a standard 100 PVU core.
WebSphere Commerce 7.0 is available now. For more information on WebSphere Commerce version 7.0, see www-01.ibm.com/software/genservers/commerceproductline.