IBM Makes i Solution Editions From Power 720 and 740 Servers
August 23, 2010 Timothy Prickett Morgan
For a bunch of years now, IBM and its key application software partners on the OS/400 and i platform have used special lower-cost iSeries, System i, and Power Systems machines called Solution Editions to make it more attractive for customers to buy new application software and put it on an OS/400 or i box rather than Windows or Linux. The new Power 720 and 740 4U rack servers have been added to the ranks of i Solution Edition machines.
The basic idea of the i Solution Edition machines is simple. Configurations of hardware and systems software are setup to support a specific number of end users for a particular application suite, and rather than having to negotiate a hardware and software discount from IBM to make the sale, the ISV pushes these tailored configurations with a discount that is set by Big Blue ahead of time. The software is all pretested, too, which means the time from sales pitch to installed and running application suite is a lot shorter.
With the Power 720 and 740 i Solution Editions, IBM says that the cost of acquisition for the entire solution can be as much as 35 percent lower than buying all of the hardware and software separately. As you can see from this page on IBM’s Web site, there are a number of ISVs who have pre-certified their applications to run on the new i Solution Edition configurations. SAP Business All-in-One; Oracle JD Edwards; Infor LX, System 21, and XA; and Lawson M3 and S3 can be sold anywhere in the world running on the two new i Solution Edition setups. In North America, applications from Healthcare Management Systems, International Business Systems, Jack Henry & Associates, SolarSoft, and VAI are all certified to sell atop the new i Solution Editions.
In terms of hardware, the Power 720 i Solution Edition is based on the six-core or eight-core Power7 processors, both of which run at 3 GHz. Five of the processors on this machine are activated free of charge. IBM does not toss in any free i 6.1.1 or i 7.1 licenses on this Power 720 setup, but it does reduce the per-user charge from the $250 it charges normally to $70. This is a big price cut.
On the Power 740, the i Solution Edition can be configured with anywhere from four to 16 cores running at a variety of speeds, depending on the application software and the number of end users. The Power 740 can have one or two processor cards, and it supports four-core chips running at 3.3 GHz, four-core or six-core chips running at 3.7 GHz, or eight-core chips running at 3.55 GHz. No matter which ones the ISV deploys for its i Solution Edition, IBM activates half the number of cores for free on the box and throws in two freebie i 6.1.1 or i 7.1 licenses on the machine, which has a $88,000 value including a year of Software Maintenance.
In both cases, the new i Solution Edition boxes have a license to the i Access middleware for connecting users over the Web for free, and a service voucher to sweeten the deal.
One more thing you won’t see in the announcement letters and on IBM’s Web site: to qualify for an i Solution Edition, the combined value of the software, maintenance, services, and training that customers buy from the ISV has to be $25,000 or more.
While I love to see any AS/400 through Power Systems i customer get a break and I love helping ISVs come onto the platform, the subtext of such pricing is that new customers get the deal and loyal customers who are already on the platform pay more. This seems backward to me. I would like a world where the machines are priced so you don’t have to discount much. I would also like world peace, a little red wagon, a sailboat, and a pony.