The Sales Pitch For The PureFlex For IBM i Bundle
November 4, 2013 Timothy Prickett Morgan
In last week’s issue of The Four Hundred, we told you about the new PureFlex Solution for IBM i bundle that Big Blue rolled out as part of the October announcements. This bundle is based on the Power7+ processor and the p260+ two-socket server node in the PureFlex system and is a more suitable setup than a similar bundle announced in June using the quad-socket p460 node, which is based on the Power7 chip. Just how good of a deal is this new bundle?
The machines cost about the same on the hardware front. The p460 bundle had a price tag of $137,206 after a 24.8 percent discount with one of its 16 cores activated and running IBM i 7.1 with 10 users. IBM also bundled in five days of Lab Services to help customers port their applications over to the p460, which cost $20,000, so the total really came to $157,206 and that worked out to a 22.3 percent discount off list price for all the elements of the bundle. But the p460 setup is costly in one other way–it is in the P10 IBM i software tier. While the p460 would normally be in a P20 tier (based on its raw performance compared to other rack systems of the same caliber), and therefore this represents a good value for customers, most IBM i shops don’t need 16 Power7 cores. More importantly their current machines are in the P05 software, which has significantly lower IBM i licensing costs. P05 licenses are about a quarter the price of P10 licenses, depending on the user count, and independent software vendors tend to scale with IBM’s software tiers, too. So customers with a P05 machine would be reluctant to move to the earlier bundle.
With the new p260+ bundle, which is in the P05 tier, the justification for moving to PureFlex systems from independent rack servers with Power and X86 processors is going to get a whole lot easier.
First, the Lab Services that IBM was making a part of the original bundle are now optional. So if you can figure it out on your own, you can save $20,000.
To get a sense of what an IBM i shop can expect in terms of return on investment by consolidating onto PureFlex iron, IBM ran a configuration through an ROI tool created by Alinean, which creates sales and marketing tools for just this purpose.
The initial setup has a Power 520 machine with an unspecified processor that is in the P10 tier. The setup also has 10 four-core PowerEdge servers from Dell, for a total of 40 cores, and a 5 TB SAN array (unspecified) from EMC. The PureFlex for IBM i solution has one p260+ server with four cores active (one is configured with IBM i and two run the Virtual I/O Server for virtualizing connections to storage and networks) plus one x240 compute node with eight cores. The setup has a Storwize V7000 array with 2.4 TB of capacity serving these two nodes.
The details of the Alinean calculations were not available, but presumably the older machines were burdened with a substantial amount of software and hardware maintenance over the three-year window that the return on investment was calculated. The new PureFlex setup had a $124,038 price tag (at list price) plus an additional $25,868 in maintenance costs after the initial warranties expired, for a total cost of $149,906. IBM reckons, based on the output of the tool, that this setup will pay for itself in 21 months. Here’s what the ROI curve looks like:
The benefits of this PureFlex setup are ones you are familiar with: Having a consolidated management framework across X86 and Power servers, storage arrays, and network switches. The V7000 has thin provisioning and other features like EasyTier that can be used to improve utilization and drive up performance as well. I wonder how those 11 servers in the original setup can burn $295,724, but in addition to fewer software licenses on the x240 machine and cheaper licenses on the p260+ server, the fewer boxes also burn less juice and take up less space in a rack.
Averna, a wine and spirits maker from Italy, put ERP software from SAP on the PureFlex bundle and boosted its processing power by 40 percent, its network performance by 100 percent, and reduced power and cooling costs by 30 percent, for a more real-world example. As far as I know, Averna did not engage Lab Services.
But, IBM thinks many customers will just because the PureFlex systems are a bit different from having a bunch of disparate boxes. Here’s what the Lab Services bundle includes for that $20,000:
Basically, IBM will set up and configure the machines, connect them to your networks, set up the hypervisors and logical partitions on the nodes (PowerVM on the Power node and VMware ESXi on the X86 node), and provide training on how to use the Flex System Manager to run the whole shebang.
The PureFlex Solution for IBM i bundle will be available on November 15.