IBM Rolls Out PureFlex-IBM i Bundle With Decent Discounts
June 10, 2013 Timothy Prickett Morgan
The Edge 2013 conference for IBM customers and partners with a bend toward big data and cloud is under way in Las Vegas this week, but the Power Systems platform running the IBM i is getting some action with a special discounted bundle of hardware, software, and services that will make it less costly and easier for IBM i shops to move to PureFlex modular systems.
I caught wind two weeks ago that there was a special deal coming for IBM i customers running their workloads on Flex System iron, and this turns out to be the case. This deal is not just part of the 25th anniversary celebration for the AS/400-iSeries-System i-Power Systems/IBM i platform, but is also a genuine effort to get shops with older Power5, Power5+, Power6, and Power6+ iron and a mix of various X86 server machinery to move to the Flex System iron and use converged networking and storage to support their IBM i, Windows, Linux, and AIX workloads.
IBM i has been a peer to Windows, Linux, and AIX on the Power and Xeon server nodes in the PureFlex systems since they debuted in April 2012, and contrary to what you might think–and what I was indeed thinking myself–the Pure message is getting through to more than a few IBM i shops. Averna, a wine and grappa distributor based in Italy, has moved its SAP ERP suite and converged its Windows servers onto a PureFlex platform. French electrical distribution company ETS Claude Blandin (ECB) has plunked two PureFlex machines into its offices in Martinique and Guadalupe in the Caribbean, consolidating IBM i and Windows workloads on them and providing disaster recovery between the two sites as well.
“We have IBM i customers looking at PureFlex as a viable option,” says IBM i product manager Alison Butterill.
This is important because this converged system, which integrates servers, storage, and networking under a single management framework, is the future of enterprise computing as far as Big Blue is concerned. This is what Software Group wants, this is what Systems and Technology Group has been told to want.
Technically, the bundle is called the IBM PureFlex Solution for IBM i, and it has a bunch of different parts, explains John Biebelhausen, who is worldwide solution manager for PureFlex Systems at IBM. Biebelhausen has been around the Power Systems market for a long time, and was part of the team that brought Power-based blade servers out and then eventually got IBM i ported to these Power blades. Being intimately familiar with the value of an integrated system, you would think Power blades plus IBM i would have sold well. There were issues, and IBM is keen on not repeating them this time around with PureFlex.
“One of the challenges is that we have found with IBM i clients as they contemplate moving to PureFlex are similar to the challenges they faced with trying to move to blades,” says Biebelhausen. “The management framework is different, tape backup is different, other things are different.”
So IBM has to sweeten the deal economically and make the transition smoother technically. And that is what this PureFlex Solution for IBM i is designed to do. Here are its components and pricing:
The Flex Chassis is configured with one Flex p460 server node configured with two eight-core Power7 processors running at 3.3GHz. All 16 cores on the processor card are activated, and there is room to add two more processors when additional computing is necessary. This server node, like regular p460 and p460+ nodes using Power7+ chips, is in the P10 software tier, which makes it a very good value in terms of IBM i licensing costs compared to other four-socket Power System machines in rack and tower configurations. IBM i 7.1 comes free on one core with 10 user entitlements and the bundle adds four more cores of IBM i plus one AIX license. The p460 node has two four-port 10Gb/sec Ethernet network adapters and two two-port 8Gb/sec Fibre Channel ports snapped onto the card.
The PowerVM Enterprise Edition hypervisor is enabled for five cores, and a pair of Virtual I/O Servers is set up to link out to switches and storage. The Flex System chassis in this bundle is configured with redundant switches and I/O adapters and a Storwize V7000 array that has both RAID data protection and mirroring across its drives. The V7000 has eight 600 GB, 10K RPM disk and two 8Gb/sec four-port Fibre Channel cards to link the server nodes to storage.
I forgot to mention that there is also a Xeon E5-based server in the chassis as well as the Flex System Manager, the control freak that runs on its own dedicated X86 server that is part of the stack. Specifically, IBM is tossing in a single Flex x240 server node, just to whet the appetite for X86 server consolidation. Biebelhausen says that the typical IBM i shop has from five to 20 x86 servers for every one Power Systems machine in the shop. So now you know why IBM is shipping this PureFlex-IBM i bundle in a full 42U rack. IBM thinks it can fill it up with shiny new Flex System chassis and lots of server nodes and storage.
At list price, the PureFlex-IBM i bundle costs $182,349, but after chopping the cost by $45,143–or about 24.8 percent off–the price drops to $137,206 for the whole shebang. IBM is also bundling in five days of its Lab Services support, which costs $20,000, and there is no discount on that. But companies that are new to PureFlex iron are going to need help with learning about Flex System, or integrating into their networks, or setting up logical partitions and porting their apps and databases over. Once you add in these services, the total cost is $157,206, and that is a 22.3 percent discount. That’s still not bad, of course.
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.
The PureFlex Solution for IBM i will be in Big Blue’s sales configurators as of June 11 and will be generally available on June 28. I have not seen the announcement letter for this yet–and I expect it on June 11–and if there is anything else I need to tell you about it, I will do so in the next edition of The Four Hundred.