Power System Tweaks Loom As IBM Offers 25th Anniversary Edition Iron
June 3, 2013 Timothy Prickett Morgan
IBM is getting ready to host its Edge 2013 customer and partner event for big data and cloud in Las Vegas next week, and the word on the street is that a slew of Power Systems announcements are on the way. IBM could not keep all of its powder dry, however, and last week put out a special 25th Anniversary deal for entry IBM i boxes.
The Edge event used to be dedicated to storage, but it has expanded to cover Power Systems, System x, and PureSystems platforms, as well as related systems software for this machinery and, of course, smarter computing efforts and the SmartCloud public cloud. This time around, it will be a coming out party for Tom Rosamilia, who just took over running IBM’s System and Technology Group a month ago. Rosamilia has had a number of key jobs at IBM in the past, and notably ran the System z mainframe and Power Systems businesses for a number of years. Andy Moonshaw, who is general manager of the PureSystems line at IBM, will also give a keynote as will Adalio Sanchez, who is general manager of the System x line and who, several years ago, ran IBM’s AIX server business before it was converged with the OS/400-IBM i line.
The word on the street is that IBM is fixing to make some kind of announcements at the Red Hat Summit in Boston, which happens next week as well.
Before I get into speculating about what will happen at these two events, let’s talk about what IBM actually did with this 25th Anniversary Edition promotion, which celebrates the impending 25th birthday of the “Silverlake” AS/400 minicomputer that was announced on June 21, 1988, and which has given this newsletter its name as well as purpose as the AS/400 has been transformed many times over the years into the modern IBM i platform that we know and love today.
In announcement letter 113-108, Big Blue couldn’t help but do a little bragging.
“For a quarter of a century, IBM i has been transforming our clients’ businesses by delivering an exceptional client experience through an integrated system that is easy to use and application-rich. The simplicity and reliability of IBM i helped fuel the explosion of industry applications for midsized companies and generated one of the industry’s most passionate user communities.”
As a present to shoppers buying a Solution Edition preconfigured box based on either the Power 720+ or Power 740+ entry machines that were announced in early February and that started shipping in mid-March, IBM is offering a freebie license to IBM i 7.1 on a single core of the machine. As the plus in the system name (which I always put in there and sometimes IBM does) suggests, these machines are based on the eight-core Power7+ chip, which offers a modest speed bump over Power7 engines as well as a bunch more features. Power 720+ buyers can order a minimum of the one freebie core and activate up to three more cores running IBM i on the 8202-E4D machine with processor feature 4928 (four cores only) or processor feature 4927 (which can have six or eight cores activated). The Power 740+ Solution Edition already has two freebie cores, so you can now get a third one and only have to pay for one to make the minimum of four cores activated. On a normal P10 machine as the Power 740+ is, a license for one core of IBM i costs $11,995, compared to $1,920 on a P05 machine like the Power 720+. So this is like cutting the cost of IBM by a factor of four on the Power 740+, to $2,999.
The birthday deal for the IBM i Solution Edition also has three service vouchers tossed in. One is good for a single day of on-site services from IBM, perhaps to assess application modernization options or to help with an upgrade, or 16 hours of remote services. The service can be provided by either IBM Lab Services or an IBM business partner offering complementary services. You can find out more about the vouchers at this link. IBM also gives education vouchers in Solution Edition machines. Under the deal, IBM is expanding the number of independent software vendors who are participating in the Solution Edition program for the IBM i platform. This deal is effective for any machine that is ordered in June and doesn’t have an end date, but the scuttlebutt is that it will only run until the end of September, which is the end of the current quarter.
Now, let’s get on with the rumors about what might happen at the Edge conference as it relates to Power Systems and IBM i. What I hear from people in the know is that IBM is getting ready to cook up a Solution Edition of the PureFlex modular server using Power7+ server nodes. (As silly as this may sound, a PureFlex setup running IBM i is not called a PureSystem, even though it is clearly an application system not a raw infrastructure machine. Go figure.) IBM is apparently getting out its red pen and making the PureFlex machinery and software less expensive to make it more attractive to IBM i shops, who have one, two, or three IBM i servers and a slew of X86-based iron typically.
This is what I have been saying IBM should be doing since the PureFlex machines were announced back in April 2012. Moreover, I have been asking for a baby PureSystems machine running IBM i as well as having x86 nodes that are suitable for most IBM i shops, which have machines in the Power 520 and Power 720 class. They do not need a giant rack of iron, they need a baby chassis that is modular and maybe two enclosures for high availability clustering across both Power and X86 nodes. I do not expect for such a baby PureSystem to be announced, with room for seven nodes max and maybe two disk arrays and three nodes total in a typical configuration. But it would sure be nice to see IBM do something aimed at the actual Power Systems-IBM i customer and not gear so much toward the high-end.
IBM is also expected to get a Hadoop cluster appliance based on its PowerLinux Linux-only machines out the door, I hear, and we can expect some storage enhancements on Power Systems machines as well as on external arrays, with a particular emphasis on flash storage.
If I can find out the link to the presentations IBM is making at Edge–which are currently not available–I will bootnote it at the bottom of this story so you can listen in.