IBM Rejiggers DS Array And EXP Enclosure Disk Prices
January 9, 2012 Timothy Prickett Morgan
We have been warning you that in the wake of the tragic flooding in Thailand, where about a quarter of the world’s disk drives and many of the components used in units made elsewhere are manufactured that you should expect price rises for disk drives due to shortages. Interestingly, IBM both raised and lowered disk prices in selected models of its DS series of external disk arrays last week.
As it turns out, as you can see in announcement letter 312-005, some of the price cuts are very deep and some of the price increases are fairly modest on various disk drives used in the DS family of arrays. Actually, you can’t see that because IBM’s announcement letters are gobbledygook, showing only product numbers, features numbers, and old and new prices and you have to sort it out all for yourself. Or, you read The Four Hundred and I do it for you, despite how annoying it is.
If you build a table describing the arrays, enclosures, and disk drives that IBM has tweaked the prices on, as I did here, you will see an interesting pattern.
First of all, IBM didn’t just universally jack up disk prices across the board in its arrays because of shortages on the open market for drives. In fact, IBM has pretty dramatically slashed prices on 300 GB and 450 GB 3.5-inch SAS drives spinning at 15K RPM and 146GB and 300GB 3.5-inch SAS disks spinning at 10K RPM, and 1TB SAS disks spinning at 7.2K RPM. We’re talking cuts that range from 20 percent to 42.6 percent. Fatter 3 TB disks had a 4.6 percent price rise in certain machines and a 2.1 percent cut in others. In the machines that use SAS disks with Fibre Channel interfaces to boost performance, prices are up from 4.6 percent to 10.1 percent, depending on the disk capacity, spindle speed, and disk array that it plugs into. IBM jacked up prices on drives sold in packs of 16 as well. I have to assume that IBM’s disk price changes reflect the inventories of drives it has on hand and that it is trying to steer demand. IBM may be trying to win a little competitive business, too, by lowering prices on lower capacity drives in arrays to be better able to sell against EMC, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Hitachi, and others that sell arrays.
By the way, as far as I know, IBM has not yet changed prices on disk drives used inside its Power Systems and System x servers. But if shortages continue in the disk drive market, with IBM not making its own drives any more it will be subject to the same market forces as other vendors, who will have to pass on costs to server customers as raw drive prices go up. IBM already charges so much for server storage–particularly on its Power Systems line–that it might be willing to take the hit for a while or simply discount less on the storage part of the deal without formally changing prices. If you are in deals and you see any change in behavior, please let me know.
Here’s one such change in behavior. A long-running promotion aimed at customers running IBM i on Power Systems that bought high-end DS8000 disk arrays that gave customers a discount of 62 percent or 65 percent on the arrays (depending on the configuration) and 40 percent off software function activation in the arrays, was killed off on December 20 in announcement letter 311-180.