Why Is IBM Giving AIX Shops Better Deals Than IBM i Shops?
April 10, 2017 Timothy Prickett Morgan
It looks like AIX shops got a better Valentine’s Day card than IBM i customers did.
One of the things that was supposed to happen when the iSeries and pSeries product lines were merged back in 2000 was that a unified Power Systems organization was going to run both the OS/400 (now IBM i) and AIX software platforms on a single, unified hardware platform with a single and equal hardware price. This was something we had been demanding from IBM so long that we were blue in the face, so to speak, and to its credit, IBM stuck to the unified pricing for several years.
But every now and then, the ugly head of charging a premium to OS/400 and IBM i shops, for no good reason, rears its ugly head, and it has done it recently once again with regard to the Power Systems S812 Mini, which IBM announced on February 14, which it started shipping in March, and which we have provided detailed pricing information for in this story here and this additional story comparing it to the Power S822 and Power S824 with similar configurations.
As part of the original pricing in the February 14 announcement, IBM was charging the same price of $1,100 for the single-socket Power8 processor card with a 3.03 GHz clock speed for both IBM i and AIX customers, and also the same $360 per core to activate cores. This makes sense. The difference between the two customers is that the feature EPXP card aimed at IBM i shops only had one of its six cores working and only that one core could be activated to run workloads. The EPXQ card aimed at AIX shops had four cores that could be activated, like the similar card used in the Power S814 machine that predates the Power S812 Mini as the entry machine with IBM i P05 software tiering and much lower pricing for the IBM i software stack than machines in the P10 or P20 tiers like, for instance, the Power S822 and Power S824 machines we compared the Power S812 Mini to.
These are not big bucks for Power Systems compute capacity, mind you, but compared to X86 servers, they are quite expensive by comparison. A mid-tier Xeon processor from Intel, with 8 or 10 cores, costs maybe $300 to $400 – call it $40 per core – and a motherboard is a few hundred bucks, tops. That is enough to get anyone riled up, but set that aside for a moment. What has me annoyed today is that after the Power S812 Mini was announced, in announcement letter 317-074, IBM slashed the price of the computing for AIX customers on the Power S812 Mini but did not offer the same price cut to IBM i shops.
To be specific, IBM cut the price of the single-socket Power8 processor card by 78.6 percent from $1,100 to $235, and it cut the per-core activation fee by 61.1 percent from $360 to $140. For AIX shops who activate all four cores (as is expected), that is a savings of $1,745 off the cost of the system. This is a fairly significant amount of money. Keeping price parity for entry IBM i shops buying the single-core Power S812 Mini would save these customers $1,085, and that would take another bite out of the cost of the hardware and the amount that needs to be depreciated.
Obviously, we think IBM should pass this price cut through to IBM i shops, and if not formally through an announcement letter, then customers should demand it as a rebate from IBM, which preserves the top line and therefore the commissions at resellers who peddle IBM i boxes but takes it out of IBM’s own profit margins. If IBM is willing to wheel and deal for AIX shops, it should be willing to do so for IBM i shops. It really is that simple.
While I am thinking about it, and am annoyed on your behalf, if IBM wants to have a good Power9 ramp, it might want to give serious consideration of getting IBM i, AIX, and Linux hardware at price parity again and then very aggressively upgrade IBM i and AIX shops and get as many customers current on Power9 iron and recent operating system releases over the next three years. This is a great opportunity to move the whole base forward – something that IBM did not have as a goal with Power6, Power7, or Power8 generations. This should be the goal, and providing hardware at prices that are competitive with X86 systems, as it is doing with the Power Systems LC models, would be a great step in the right direction. It is just dumbfounding to me that IBM is short-sighted enough to treat the customers who do not use its software platforms – those running Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and Canonical Ubuntu Server – better than those who have deployed its own IBM i and AIX platforms, and have done so in many cases for two or three decades.
That is just plain silly.
One last thing: When we did our pricing comparisons between the Power S812 Mini and other current machines, we did not chase down pricing for the single-core Power S814, its predecessor. Our thinking was that this box was effectively replaced by this, but many of you want to see the pricing on the Power S814 because in some ways this is not the case. You are right, and as soon as we have the data, we will show you. Thanks for your input and patience.