ITG Says IBM i + DB2 for i Still Offers Lowest TCO
April 11, 2011 Timothy Prickett Morgan
As The Four Hundred previously reported, a new vice president, Colin Parris, has taken the reins as business line manager for the Power Systems line of servers. And one of the things that IBM has done as Parris took control is have its stable of consultants who do price/performance and other kinds of analysis for Power Systems go out and update their reports to reflect the new Power7 iron and related operating systems that debuted last year.
You can see a list of the updated Power Systems reports here. International Technology Group, the Los Altos, California, consultancy that has been tasked with making the economic and technical case for the OS/400 and IBM i platform for the past several years, has been asked by Big Blue to update its research.
Brian Jeffery, managing director at ITG, has duly released a report called Value Proposition for IBM Power Systems Servers and IBM i: Minimizing Costs and Risks for Midsize Businesses. The full report pits Power 720, Power 730, and Power 740 machines running IBM i 7.1 with its integrated DB2 for i relational database against equivalent Intel-based configurations using Xeon 5600 and 7500 processors running either a Linux operating system and Oracle 11g database or a Windows operating system running Microsoft‘s SQL Server 2008 database.
ITG cooked up four different scenarios for midrange shops, which ranged in size from $200 million to $1.3 billion and had from 500 to 4,500 employees. In the full study, these four scenarios are presented in detail, but for the executive summary that IBM has posted on its site, the data for these four scenarios are averaged together to give you a flavor of the comparisons. (Jeffrey has to make a living too, and he sells this data. You can purchase a copy of the full management briefing by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
When you add up the four different scenarios, this is what the data looks like:
All of the machines in the comparisons have virtual machine or logical partition hypervisors, but ITG contends that VMware‘s ESX Server hypervisor is really only suited to development, test, and lightweight applications, not the kinds of back-end database and application workloads that ITG compares in its report. (This is an assertion that VMware would surely contest with its latest ESX Server 4.1 hypervisor.) The upshot is that even though Power Systems machinery and systems software can be more expensive, you need to buy less iron to set up a failover cluster than you would need for an X64-based setup. ITG contends that you need to cluster those Oracle or SQL Server databases and then put applications on a large number of Windows or Linux boxes. In one case, by example, ITG says that it takes 10 separate X64 servers to host the same applications as can be done on a Power 740 with four partitions clustered to a Power 720 using PowerHA SystemMirror for i that has six partitions. The backup box is used for some production and a lot of non-production workloads.
Clever configuration makes all the difference in the world.
The upshot, says ITG, is that a gaggle of Linux servers back-ended by an Oracle 11g dataset averaged $1.6 million to acquire and run for three years, compared to $813,800 for a Windows stack on the same iron and a mere $470,000 for the average Power Systems-IBM i 7.1 setup. Personnel costs are a big part of the Linux, Windows, and IBM i scenarios. ITG contends that the fixed costs as well as the ongoing costs are lower for the Power Systems-IBM i combinations–something that AS/400 shops have been saying for more than 20 years comparing themselves to other platforms. Here’s what it looks like when you look at fixed versus ongoing costs for the average of the four scenarios:
It makes you wonder why everyone isn’t running IBM i boxes, doesn’t it? Clearly, familiarity provides some sort of comfort that trumps economics, if ITG’s analysis is correct. The irony to me is that 20 years ago, the AS/400 was the application platform with the most applications and the highest familiarity and comfort level in the midrange. Now, IBM has 2,500 ISVs supporting it, and Windows is on most desktops and on the majority of servers.
Imagine if an operating system like OS/400–the one where the database was the file system–had been hacked onto desktops and given a pretty face like DOS was given to become Windows.