IBM Delivers Yet Another Hardware Management Console
September 13, 2010 Timothy Prickett Morgan
How many different types of Linux-based PCs does it take to screw in a PowerVM hypervisor? Apparently more than one. And apparently IBM still thinks it is fine to charge an outrageous price for the Hardware Management Console (HMC), which is little more than a low-end X64-based server running a control console for PowerVM as it runs on Power5 and higher systems.
This week, IBM will roll out another in a long line of HMCs that I cannot see as anything other than a profit center for Big Blue. In announcement letter 110-146, the details of the 7402-CR6 iteration of the rack-mounted HMCs debuts. The new HMC is based on a single quad-core Intel Xeon processor spinning at 2.53 GHz with 12 MB of L2 cache memory; the machine has 4 GB of main memory, one 2.5-inch SATA disk, one SATA CD/DVD drive, four Gigabit Ethernet ports, and two peripheral slots (one PCI-Express and one PCI-X). The machine can be equipped with a modem for remote electronic support, but IBM recommends a broadband link. The HMC uses the V7R720 version of the HMC licensed internal code, which allows for memory mirroring for the system firmware and allows command-line support for IBM i network installation.
In this announcement you will learn that if you are moving to Power7 iron, you will need to have an HMC at the CR3 or higher level for rack-mounted HMCs and at the C05 level or higher for deskside HMCs. Multiple System i, System p, and Power Systems servers can have their PowerVM hypervisors managed from a single console, which is a good thing. But for shops that have a relatively small Power Systems machine, shelling out $5,800 for this new HMC, plus anywhere from $875 to $1,290 for an LCD screen, $107 for a keyboard, $39 for a mouse, $18for a power cord, $200 for a modem, and $277 for a redundant power supply will seem a bit much for a machine that does nothing except manage PowerVM logical partitions.
I said it before and I will say it again: IBM should be selling HMCs for $1,000 or less–including a monitor. And better still, the HMC should be implemented like the service processor itself on the Power Systems boxes, including redundancy and mirroring of the hypervisors. It should be part of the box and included in the price, not a gotcha that customers get zinged by after the fact. Especially at the prices that IBM i customers are paying for hardware and systems software.