IBM Wraps Up New PureFlex For IBM i Bundle
October 28, 2013 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Back in June, IBM put together a bundle of hardware, software, and services that was aimed at customers who wanted to run the IBM i operating system on PureFlex converged systems. The deal offered some pretty good discounts, and it really had to because the underlying Power Systems platform was based on a quad-socket p460 server node. This is a bit too much iron for many IBM i shops, and the node is also in the P10 software tier.
To IBM’s credit, the fact that the p460 node is in the P10 tier rather than a P20 tier just goes to show you that the company really wants customers to move to PureFlex converged systems, because with two eight-core Power7 processors running at 3.3 GHz–and the ability to add two more to the double-wide node–there is plenty of oomph in the p460 node. But, as we all know, the vast majority of IBM i shops are in the P05 software tier these days, and that jump from P05 to P10 can be a doozey for both IBM systems software and for application software from third-party vendors.
And so, in the wake of the announcement of the p260+ single-wide server node, based on two dual-core Power7+ chips running at 4 GHz, Big Blue went back to the drawing board and has created a new PureFlex-IBM i bundle based on this iron, which is in the P05 tier.
John Biebelhausen, worldwide offering manager for PureFlex Systems at IBM, says that the existing machine from June has been withdrawn from marketing and is being replaced by the new setup. It has a special order system, as it turns out, what IBM calls a PRPQ, and was not part of the official IBM order system. The new PureFlex-IBM bundle is in IBM’s regular sales systems, and that means business partners can order it on behalf of their customers.
In announcement letter 113-195, you will see the announcement of the new bundle, but as usual there is not very much detail in there. That is why you keep me around.
The p260+ has two Power7+ processors in two sockets, but six of the eight cores on the die are duds and are electrically isolated from the two cores that work just fine. Because IBM is using chips it might otherwise throw out, it can make the p260+ node less expensive–around $9,000 with all the cores activated and some memory slapped on it–and it just so happens that the vast majority of IBM i customers have four or fewer cores in their systems. So such a machine is perfect for them.
The new PureFlex Solution for IBM i comes with all four cores activated and paid for, and one of them has IBM i 7.1 installed on one core with a license for 10 users to access that core. A portion of one of the cores is used to run two copies of the Virtual IO Server, which is used to virtualize access to I/O devices in the system. Customers can put IBM i on the remaining cores, leave them open for future expansion, or put AIX or Linux on them. The node comes with 8 GB of main memory, which is expandable to 512 GB.
The bundle includes one x240 Xeon-based node for running Windows or Linux workloads, plus a dedicated node to run the Flex System Manager uber-controller for the Flex System chassis. FSM is what manages the server nodes, switches, and storage in the chassis. The setup includes two 16 Gb/sec Fibre Channel switches from Brocade Communications to link the server node to link the server nodes to a Flex V7000 storage array, which has eight 600 GB disk drives installed. All of the key Storwize software, including EasyTier storage tiering, thin provisioning, compression, and storage virtualization, are installed on the V7000 array. The machine has a Gigabit Ethernet switch from IBM to link the servers to the outside world.
Biebelhausen says that the PureFlex-IBM i bundle can be customized as customers need it to be, and they can back-step to IBM i 6.1 if they need to application compatibility. You can add more Xeon-based Flex nodes as needed, and Big Blue expects customers to do just that. Customers can get a bare-bones Flex System chassis, which has room for fourteen single-wide nodes, and just tuck that somewhere. IBM has also just announced a new 25U rack for customers that don’t need a full 42U rack.
The PureFlex Solution for IBM i has a list price of $124,038 and will be available on November 15. There are no discounts built into this bundle, as there was for the prior bundle based on the p460 node, but Biebelhausen says that all customers get some kind of a deal through their resellers.