Abacus Offers IBM i Performance Assessment
November 18, 2013 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Power Systems reseller and IBM i cloud provider Abacus Solutions wants to help you figure out the performance bottlenecks in your system. To that end, the company is partnering with Midrange Performance Group to use its Performance Navigator performance monitoring and capacity planning tool to help IBM i shops figure out what is keeping their systems from optimal performance and then using its own systems expertise to make recommendations about what to do to improve performance.
The answer, says Patrick Schutz, director of managed services and support at Abacus, is not to do what Big Blue often does, which is to recommend a system upgrade. In many cases, performance is not being hampered by a lack of processing, but rather a system that has too little main memory or too few disk arms to drive the I/O that the application requires.
“We are not just following IBM’s playbook,” says Schutz. “A lot of times, there is a lot of really obvious stuff. Disk utilization seems to be a recurring problem. Customers don’t have enough disk arms a lot of the time. And with high availability clustering, applications consume a lot of disk I/O as well.”
Whatever the problem is, the Abacus Performance Assessment service aims to get to the root of the trouble. Abacus sets up the Performance Navigator monitoring tool on your machine for a two- to three-week stretch to get a good pile of performance data to sift through. If the workloads are choppy enough, Abacus will do a full 30-day run with the tool to get a sense of what the machine is doing.
With this data, it can provide a granular view into CPU, memory, and disk usage, looking at average and peak capacity and do some trend projections based on the data. The MPG tools kick out a “State of the Union” document, and the techies at Abacus sift through this to do what-if analysis, looking at what can be done to maximize performance for the workloads on the machine. In many cases, adding more memory or more disk arms is sufficient to boost performance–which can mean increasing throughput, reducing response time, or the combination of the two. The report includes lots of pretty pictures to make it simple for upper management to see what can and should be done, and Abacus techies give a WebEx presentation of the results to the IT and management teams once all of the data has been gathered, the analysis done, and the recommendations made.
“This performance assessment is really valuable in those times when the customer has hit the pause button and is not really sure what to do next,” says Schutz. “Most shops have their heads down, doing the day-to-day work and they cannot necessarily think about the future or boosting performance right now.”
The Performance Assessment service costs $1,900 and it takes about 10 hours of work on behalf of the Abacus staff, which means that the company is not really making much money on the deal. In fact, says Schutz, the whole idea behind the service is not so much to make money but to have a larger conversation with potential customers to either right-size their machine by adding more memory or disk or even doing a core or processor upgrade. They might also shift some of their applications from their systems to the Abacus IBM i cloud service to free up capacity.
“Our goal is to never bill for the service,” says Schutz. For very large engagements, all of the fees for the Performance Assessment service are deducted from the cost of the deal. There is a sliding scale for the rebates. If customers spend $5,000 or under, then there is no rebate for the fees from the Performance Assessment service. If they spend between $5,000 and $10,000, then Abacus will give back half of the cost of the service, or $950. And for any subsequent engagement that results in spending $10,000 or more, the fees are completely reimbursed.
You can request a Performance Assessment by going to this link.