Big Blue Gives IBM i Shops A Special 30th Birthday Bash Box
May 21, 2018 Dan Burger
Big Blue is in the middle of celebrating three decades of the IBM i platform, and the company has unveiled a special birthday box that commemorates the occasion. It’s essentially a Solutions Edition package with some extra bells and whistles. For those unfamiliar with the Solutions Editions, they are pre-configured systems with a choice of IBM and ISV software discounts applied. Those discounts would be unavailable when buying the systems or the software individually.
The IBM i 30th Edition offering is based on IBM i Solution Edition Power9 Model S914, a P05 tier box, with four cores. All of the cores are activated on the entry Power9 machines by default, but they are not preconfigured with IBM i, AIX, or Linux and customers have to pay a per-core licensing fee and one year of Software Maintenance (SWMA) on IBM as part of a deal. (The machine comes with 90 days of SWMA bundled in, so you only have to pay for nine months the first time.) All of the Power9 machines code-named “ZZ” – that’s the Power S914, Power S922, and Power S924 and their H (for HANA) and L (for Linux) variants – have the PowerVM hypervisor bundled in as well, which is new with the Power9 machines. With Power8 boxes intended for IBM i or AIX customers (with the occasional Linux partition), PowerVM was a priced feature.
There are a number of differences between the Power9-based birthday box and the plain vanilla Solution Edition machines, which you can find out all about at this link. One of the distinctions between the 30th Anniversary Solution and the regular Solution Editions is that companies can work with any IBM i independent software vendor (ISV) as part of a deal; it does not have to be a deal done with the approximately 165 ISVs that are registered for Solution Edition participation.
The IBM software on the 30th Anniversary Edition system is a combination of discounted and regularly priced IBM software. There’s a base configuration and more capabilities (memory for instance) can be added depending on buyer requirements. According to Alison Butterill, IBM’s senior product offering manager, the Power S914 running IBM i as the primary operating system is considerably less expensive than the Power8 systems it replaces, so we don’t think there is a big give on the hardware with this special version of the Power S914. Standard pricing is $12,641 for a Power S914 with a single 2.3 GHz core activated with IBM i and 52,500 CPWs of compute across the four hardware cores that are activated; this machine has 64 GB of main memory and a 600 GB disk drive. The Power S914 comes with either four-core or six-core processor options, but the birthday box can only have the four-core card.
All Power9 boxes are shipped with PowerVM, but only the 30th Anniversary model offers no PowerVM SWMA costs for the first year. “We want our clients to start using it and this is a great way to start at no cost,” Butterill says.
There is also an extended trial period for IBM Cloud Storage Solutions on the birthday bash box. The original 70-day trial has been extended to 180 days.
“Part of what we are doing with the Anniversary Edition is encouraging companies to look at modern technologies,” Butterill told IT Jungle in a phone interview last week ahead of the PowerUp 18 conference (formerly known as COMMON) while she attended the IBM i University event in Paris. “We are emphasizing things they can do today that will take them into the future. Backing up to the cloud is very modern. Virtualization is modern. Our theme is looking forward.”
The notion that IBM i is not a modern system seems to unfairly haunt the platform. Many who are unfamiliar with the system’s capabilities equate three decades of business computing as baggage tied to the past. This is turning longevity from a positive into a negative. Butterill and the IBM i marketing team are keen to demonstrate the innovation taking place in IBM i shops. And the IBM i development team has done its part by building an integration framework that, among other things, allows applications on other systems to connect with business logic running on i.
This means, among other things, showcasing the integration of IBM i, Watson, and artificial intelligence – technologies that will useful to business computing now and in the future – and making people understand that this is a priority.
“We are telling some really cool stories about how IBM i is being used – the integration with Watson and the use of open source with IBM i. I want people to know about the innovation and then say to themselves, ‘I didn’t know you could do that,’” Butterill says.
Therefore, the Anniversary Edition package will include virtual education for connecting IBM i, Watson and enhanced analytics. The education is being provided by IBM i ISV Fresche Solutions, with discounted pricing compared to its standard offerings on topics such as connecting RPG to Watson, how to move data to take advantage of Watson analytics, and using open source applications to connect with Watson.
All of the details on this birthday bash box were not available at press time, but we expect an announcement letter on May 22 and will drill down into it should it appear as anticipated.