Some Tweaks and Services for the Power Systems Platform
January 10, 2011 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Just after The Four Hundred took a break for the holidays, IBM tweaked a number of products, offers, and prices that affect Power Systems shops running the IBM i operating system. These kinds of things tend to get lost in the day-to-day shuffle, which is why you keep me around to monitor the situation and report on it.
First up, in announcement letter 110-265, IBM is jacking up the number of processor cores and main memory capacity in a base Power 795 configuration. In the original announcement from August 17 last year, a Power 795 using the eight-core Power7 processors and having one processor book (IBMese for a system motherboard) needed to have at least eight cores on its processors activated, with a two-book machine needing 16 cores activated, and a three-book machine needing 24 cores activated, and so on. (That was for processor book feature 4700.) On both books, the rule was that at least a quarter of the cores on the Power 795 had to be activated. Now, if you have a Power 795 with the eight-core feature 4700 book, if you have one, two, or three books in the box, you have to activate at least 24 cores. So if you buy a one-book system, you have to activate all the cores, and on a two-book system, you have to activate half the cores at a minimum. On the Power 795 machines based on the six-core versions of the Power7 chips (processor book feature number 4702), a Power 795 has to have a minimum of 24 cores activated.
This is a substantial change in base pricing for the Power 795, but probably doesn’t affect a lot of customers. As I explained back in August, the base Power 795 frame costs $91,000. The 24-core, 3.7 GHz processor book (that’s feature 4702) costs $50,900, and a processor core activation for this book costs $7,550. The faster and fuller 32-core 4 GHz processor books (feature 4700) cost more, and not just because they have more performance but also because they have that TurboCore mode that the 24-core books do not. The feature 4700 processor book costs $99,900, and each core activation costs $10,950. A base Power 795 using the six-core Power7 chips running at 3.7 GHz cost $232,500 before this change, and now the price is $323,100. On the Power 795 using the eight-core 4 GHz chips, the base configuration used to cost $366,100, and now it costs $453,700. (Those are all single-book comparisons.) There is no change in price for the elements, of course. You just need to buy more stuff to ante into the Power 795 game.
In announcement letter 310-300, IBM is putting maintenance changes on switches used in the BladeCenter H chassis. There were no maintenance charges on these machines, for some inexplicable reason. Feature 3248 on the BladeCenter H chassis is a 10-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch module formerly made by Blade Network Technologies (which IBM acquired back in September for a rumored $400 million). This BNT switch now has a $960 per year fee for 24×7 on-site maintenance and $1,440 per year with two-hour fast response; for 9×5 business hour maintenance for a full year, the 10 GE switch support costs $640, and if you want four-hour response, it costs $864. The 20-port 8 Gb/sec SAN switch module made by QLogic for the BladeCenter H now also has support fees when it used to be free. IBM’s 24×7 support for this QLogic SAN switch costs $920 per year, and if you want the snappier two-hour response time, you’re talking $1,380; 9×5 support for this SAN switch costs $613 per year, and four-hour response will run you $828.
A long-running deal dating from August 2009, which gave customers buying Power 550 and 560 machines with Power6 and Power6+ processors rebates that ranged from $1,000 to $16,000 if they bought selected WebSphere Application Server, Portal Server, or Process Server licenses, is now dead. You can read about the deal in 309-562 and its cancelation in announcement letter 310-299.
IBM’s Global Services behemoth wants to help Power Systems shops implement IBM i and AIX applications, and in announcement letter 610-085 the company is announcing implementation services custom ServicePacs for Power Systems. The idea is to give you help with planning, implementing, configuring, and testing applications for these two platforms and also give customers basic skills training for AIX and IBM i shops. IBM dedicates a technical specialist to work with your IT staff to get the job done. As is usually the case, Big Blue did not provide pricing for the service.
Finally, a slew of DB2 Connect products were mothballed as 2010 came to an end, as you can see in announcement letter 910-288. IBM’s DB2 Connect Enterprise Edition V9.1.0 (product number 5765-F30) and DB2 Connect Unlimited Edition for System i V9.1.0 (product number 5724-M15) are both toast. DB2 Connect is a middleware program for linking DB2 databases running on System z or OS/400-i boxes to the Web, mobile applications, or DB2-driven applications running on Windows, Unix, or Linux servers. IBM rolled out DB2 Connect V9.7 back in May 2009, and while this is not officially listed as a replacement product for DB2 Connect V9.1, the current V9.7 release has plug-ins for DB2 databases on z and i boxes and is the latest-greatest equivalent tool. You can find out more about DB2 Connect V9.7 Unlimited Edition for System i here.