IBM, Oracle to Build on i Solution Edition Momentum
March 21, 2011 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Here’s some welcome good news for the IBM i marketplace: Big Blue has closed its best quarter ever in the history of doing Solution Edition bundles for iSeries, System i, and Power Systems machines running OS/400 and i operating systems. The uptick was no doubt enabled by the better price/performance that the Power7-based machines offer, the price breaks IBM is offering for Solution Edition software licenses and hardware configurations, and wider participation of and enthusiasm from ISV partners.
As IT Jungle previously reported in our Four Hundred Stuff newsletter back in January, the fourth quarter was expected to be a good for the IBM i Solution Edition offerings, which offer customers deals for certified application and system software programs running on IBM i. At the time we ran our original story, IBM was in its quiet period and could not give out any specific numbers ahead of its reporting of its fourth quarter financial results.
But last week, Guy Paradise, worldwide IBM i marketing manager, told me that the advent of the entry Power 720 and 740 machines, which were announced last August, and the deals IBM is offering in conjunction with its ISV partners got even better traction for the Solution Edition machines in the fourth quarter that you might have expected.
“The fourth quarter was the best by a long stretch that we’ve ever had for the Solution Edition offerings,” Paradise said. “It’s not just about packaging and discounts. It is about re-engaging with the customers, focused joint demand generation activity, and a leading set of ISVs to drive the partnership.”
Paradise can’t give out numbers, but he said that IBM sold more Solution Edition machines in the fourth quarter of 2010 than it has ever sold in the history of doing Solution Editions in any single quarter. “The track is really strong,” Paradise said to emphasize the pickup. And a lot of this has to do with ISV partners stepping up and investing in the Solution Edition program and coordinating with IBM rather than going off on their own.
The Solution Edition program now has over 100 ISVs participating, and IBM is working to add more to the list, especially the regional ISVs who target niches and serve as the main partner for lots of OS/400 and i shops.
I think that IBM’s raising of i5/OS V5R4 licensing prices in January will also help boost Power7 Solution Edition sales, and so will the extra deals IBM has been offering, including price breaks on user activations ($70 instead of the $250 regular IBM i customers pay). The addition of a smaller, four-core Power 720 machine back in November 2010 probably helped in Q4, too, and will no doubt help Solution Edition sales throughout 2011.
IBM wants for ISVs in the Solution Edition program to do things that help their customer bases get motivated and updated with more modern systems and application software. Here’s a case in point with Oracle, which partners with Big Blue on as many fronts as it competes with it on. One partnership is for the JD Edwards suite of ERP applications, among the most popular in use in the OS/400 and i base.
Two weeks ago, Oracle and IBM got together and announced a new express installation program that works with i Solution Edition machines to help simplify and speed up the configuration of the latest release of JDE EnterpriseOne. Specifically, the Oracle Universal Installer developed by Oracle has been tweaked so it can drop a stack of JDE EnterpriseOne App Release 9.0 Update 2 and the related Tools Release 184.108.40.206 onto a Solution Edition machine and have it set up in about four hours. All of the tuning and configuration necessary to make it hum on the Power7 boxes is all done by this installer, saving business partners selling JDE software or customers who do it themselves somewhere between one and two weeks, according to IBM. IBM has also allowed for the free service voucher that comes with a Solution Edition setup to be used to pay a reseller to perform this express installation of the JDE stack. This express installation tool was configured to do Solution Editions about a month earlier than planned, by the way, which could help boost sales in Q1 of this year a little more than expected.
The Oracle Universal Installer express install only works on the JDE EnterpriseOne 9.0 Update 2 release, but if for whatever reason you need to stay on an earlier release, you can of course run any JDE suite on a Solution Edition box. You’ll just have to go through a more manual installation process, and that will cost you time and/or money. The express installer is only tuned for Power7-based Solution Editions, too, so if you want to use older iron–even to install the most current JDE software–then you are back to the labor intensive process.
IBM and Oracle have also cooked up a return-on-investment tool to help you justify a hardware and software upgrade to the company bean counters. So ask about that when you talk to your IBM and Oracle reps. Here’s a sample initial output screen for a hypothetical company that IBM shared with me:
As you can see, IBM and Oracle can make some bigtime economic arguments, in terms of ROI, for spending money moving to a Power7 Solution Edition and plunking EnterpriseOne 9.0 Update 2 on it. Here’s a drilldown a little deeper showing where these benefits are coming from:
The IBM-Oracle ROI tool pumps out a lot more data than this, and if you are a lot like me, you are probably cynical about such ROI tools. But having said that, if no one ever got anything out of upgrading and improving their systems, we’d all still be using System/360s and COBOL. Or, worse yet, IBM 1401s and punch cards. Use these tools to help you make your case to the bean counters, but do your own analysis based on metrics that are important to your company, too. More data is usually good.