Big Blue Adds IBM i To EasyScale MSP Deal
August 8, 2016 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Back in January, when IBM announced a new deal to help make it easier for managed service providers–what we used to call hosting companies and sometimes incorrectly call cloud builders even if they are not building truly cloudy infrastructure–to build out their gear based on Power Systems iron. We complained at the time that the deal was only available for AIX and Linux systems, and should be extended to those who want to build IBM i clouds.
Lo and behold, IBM has listened and the EasyScale for MSP deal has now been extended to include the IBM i operating system, and best I can figure, the service providers that are building clouds based on Big Blue’s oldest midrange platform will now be able to get utility-style pricing on the hardware and systems software and not have to shell out a lot of money for equipment and software investments as they build out clouds.
This, of course, is the biggest obstacle to building a cloud, whether you are spending a few tens of thousands of dollars putting a few systems in the corner or tens of billions of dollars building out a globe-spanning X86 cloud like those Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft, and IBM are puffing up. By getting the capital outlay to be incremental for the service providers, IBM greases the skids a little bit and will foster more clouds based on Power-based systems. This is something that will strengthen the overall Power Systems business.
The EasyScale for MSP deal came out in January in announcement letter 116-003, and was updated last week in announcement letter 116-085. As we pointed out back in January, the EasyScale for MSP deal was available only for the two-socket Power S822 machines, which initially only supported AIX and the big-endian version of Linux. In October 2015, IBM allowed for IBM i to run on the Power S822 machines so IBM i would be supported on its PurePower converged systems, but paradoxically when the EasyScale for MSP deal was announced four months later, IBM i was not an option for these Power S822 machines under this special pricing.
Under this revised EasyScale for MSPs deal, IBM is boosting the base disk in the machine to a 300 GB drive, up from a 146 GB disk, and it is allowing for IBM i to be an operating system installed by cloud builders, an equal peer to AIX and Linux.
With the EasyScale for MSP offering, IBM configures a Power S822 with two 10-core Power8 chips running at 3.42 GHz and a single 300 GB disk drive. With the AIX and Linux machines, only one core is activated, but with the IBM i machines for some reason two cores are activated. IBM did not provide pricing for the IBM i versions, which is annoying. But on the AIX and Linux setups, the pricing of the initial system depends on the memory configuration. With 256 GB of main memory, it costs $2,000; with 512 GB it costs $4,000; and with 1 TB it costs $8,000. For the base price, the Linux and AIX machines cost the same. To activate cores, IBM is charging in 570-day increments, and the price varies depending on the original memory configuration and operating system chosen. For the skinny memory Linux machine, each core costs $5,100 for 570 days; on the midrange setup, it is $7,000 per core; and on the heavy configuration it is $12,300 per core. The AIX premium is 49 percent higher for the skinny configuration, 35 percent for the middle configuration, and 20 percent for the heavy configuration.
We suspect that IBM might be charging an even higher premium for the IBM i setups, but as we said, we don’t know because pricing was not announced. This makes some sort of sense if it turns out to be true because IBM i is an operating system and a relational database, not just an operating system like AIX or Linux. Under the deal, service providers have to buy 10 user entitlements to the IBM i platform for the first core, and then after that the IBM i software will be licensed for an unlimited number of users. We suspect that this second core is also not coming free either. Why IBM is not allowing customers to buy machines with only one core activated is weird, and we also do not have base pricing on that initial hardware. But we suspect these prices will also be higher than for the AIX and Linux variants.
One more thing: MSPs can add more storage to the machines acquired under the EasyScale for MSP deal, but IBM says the memory and processor configurations in the Power S822s are fixed. The PowerVM Enterprise Edition hypervisor is thrown into the deal to virtualize the compute and I/O, of course.
If you have the pricing for the IBM i variants of this deal, let us know. We will keep looking as well.