The Lowdown On Pricing For The Power S812 Mini
March 20, 2017 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Back on Valentine’s Day, IBM rolled out geared down variant of the entry Power S812 single-socket Power8 system for its IBM i and AIX customer bases, giving some of the low-cost love that it has heretofore reserved for its growing base of Linux customers on Power iron. The new machines are welcome, and we are told that they are about 20 percent lower cost than equivalently configured Power S822 and Power S824 machines.
We are setting about to try to see if this is true, and as a first step, we have been hunting around for weeks to get configured pricing first on the Power S812 Mini and then on the comparable Power S822 and Power S824 iron. The pricing was not available in IBM’s eConfig tool for business partners until February 28, and it took a while for us to secure the data. So we thank you for your patience. The machines only became available on St. Patrick’s Day last Friday, so we are right on time best we can figure.
The new machine is a variant of the existing Power S812L Linux-only system that IBM has been selling since April 2014. The new machine is sold under the 8284-21A product number in the IBM catalog, and it has limits on its hardware and software so customers buying it have to be careful. The “Murano” Power8 chip in the machine has cores that run at just a hair over 3 GHz, and the Mini can be configured with either 16 GB or 32 GB “Centaur” DIMM memory sticks (CDIMMs in IBM speak), which means they have the integrated L4 cache and memory buffer technology in them; these sticks run at 1.6 GHz speeds. The IBM i machine can have up to 64 GB of capacity and above that, no matter how much physical memory is in the box above that point, it won’t be able to address it. The AIX variant, which has four cores activated, tops out at 128 GB. The memory can be as low as a single stick, and you cannot mix and match 16 GB and 32 GB sticks in the system as you can with other Power Systems machines; if you want to have more than one stick in the box, you have to add them in pairs. The processors and memory are also not hot pluggable as they are in other Power Systems machines, and the CPUs cannot be changed unlike other Power Systems machines. This is a “set it and forget it” system.
We have gone into the details on the systems, which you can see here.
Let’s talk about money, and specifically, let’s see what the hardware, software, and support costs on the Power S812 Mini. Here is the hardware, and this only showing the priced features for the system that we configured up:
The base chassis costs a mere $200, and the processor card costs $1,100. And frankly, $1,100 for a 3 GHz core in this modern day and age is a pretty high price. But it also includes the card and memory slots, and is basically a system board of sorts. IBM is charging $1,110 per 16 GB of memory, so that 64 GB of maximum memory costs $4,440 and as it turns out is the most expensive part of the system. The split storage backplane that we configured and which is preferred for IBM i workloads for storage redundancy is also not cheap, at $3,500, and that is because it includes redundant write caches for data flying out of main memory to hit the disks. Eight 283 GB disk drives runs $5,260 all told. Add it all up with some cables, ties, shipping, and handling and the hardware comes to $16,111.
Now, on to software. In this case, we are including only the base components that are necessary for a system that has 25 users and one programmer that can do all kinds of stuff with legacy and modern code. This is how the software costs add up:
The IBM i 7.X license costs $2,245 per core, which includes 90 days of Software Maintenance support and five users. Adding 20 more users to the system costs $5,000, and if you add on compilers, various query and SQL development tools, printer functions, and media for the whole shebang, then the software stack on the Power Mini running IBM i costs $19,580. That means the software stack costs 22 percent more than the hardware, but at least it is closer to a 50-50 split and not 20-80.
This machine has a bunch of freebies. There is an unlimited i Access Family (5770-XW1) license thrown in, and IBM Query for i (5770-QU1) and DB2 Web Query for i (5733-WQX) are also tossed in.
Uplifting the Software Maintenance to 24×7 support and extending it out to three years of coverage is a good idea, because of the discounts available on the long term contracts, so we did that. As you can see above, that adds another $5,351 in costs to the overall system.
When you add it all up, at list price, the Power S812 Mini system running the IBM i stack costs $41,042, and 39.3 percent of that is hardware, 47.7 percent is hardware, and 13 percent is support. We think there is plenty of wiggle room to cut those software prices, but there is probably tremendous pressure on the sales reps at IBM and business partners to never do that because of the high margins that software licenses bring IBM and that are used to make up for relatively low hardware margins.
Next up, we will compare this Power S812 Mini to its brethren in the Power Systems lineup to see what kind of deal it is, and then see how it stacks up to similarly configured Windows Server and Linux iron. That should all be very interesting, indeed.