Reader Feedback On Blade Servers Barely Nick IBM i Market
December 12, 2011 Hey, Dan
Good article. I agree with the complexity from an i-perspective, and liked your detailed analysis. I would like to add another point. I think blades in general are at an awkward junction. I work at a large Intel shop right now, with a mix of Windows (Windows 2000, Windows 2003, and Windows 2008 server) as well as Red Hat Linux (4.X thru 6). Several years ago they started moving from a standard rack mount to blade configuration. A funny thing happened on the journey. It’s called virtualization. Long story short, VM’ing everything has minimalized the need for blades.
Instead, you buy a big rack-mounted IBM System x3850 or x3950, which is like a big rack-mounted Power7 server, and load up a ton of guests (logical partitions). While you can create a VM host on a blade, what’s the point? The x3850 or x3950 scales much better and ultimately is more cost effective (same discussion on a Power7 blade vs. Power7 rack mount). So right now, blades are relegated largely to single-application Oracle DB servers, as there are Oracle licensing considerations ($) on big Intel hosts. Most of the application servers (blades or rack-mounted) are being retired by virtualizing the app/web servers, etc.
So, considering both the simplicity “bias” of the i-crowd, as well as the product placement juncture of blades in general (why do you need them anymore in a virtualized world?), I think that explains the reticence of small/medium business to do i-blades. The next step for most small/medium business is to virtualize their Intel farms, blades or rack mounted.
VIOS could be avoided completely if SVC supported IBM i. As far as I know, IBM has no current or future plans to do so. I know SVC may not be a fit for all shops, but the V in SVC should apply to IBM i as well.
I just finished reading your article on the lack of acceptance of system i blade servers. You mentioned the users that are stuck on V5R4. Well, we are in that very spot and would pay IBM good money for the emulator feature. We also are running a product from one of IBM’s large software partners and rep said over their cold dead bodies would they support the development of such an emulator by IBM.
They stand to make millions from companies stuck on V5R4. Although it would be a wonderful thing for many system i customers, IBM will probably listen to the great and powerful.
I hold out a faint hope that some third party may see the opportunity for helping those of us in the “stuck” zone get our objects converted for IBM i 6.1 or 7.1 or develop such an emulator. Dream on.
The real mess is that our current version of the software in question is doing fine for our users. They aren’t being held back and certainly don’t want to spend the better part of $1 million to implement a new ERP package at this time. However, we would very much like to take advantage of the enhancements found in IBM i 6.1 and 7.1 and the latest hardware.
Thanks for taking the time to write. Hearing stories like yours helps add fuel to the fire we have for getting at real world situations.