Some Insight Into Utility Pricing On Entry Power Iron
July 27, 2020 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Two weeks ago, IBM announced a revamped lineup of entry Power9 systems, including a new single-core variant of the Power S922 server aimed at IBM i shops, and last week, we compared the performance and bang for the buck of this machine to other single-core systems for IBM i applications. This week, we complete the set by talking about that flexible, utility pricing that Big Blue started offering on big Power9 back in May and that is now available on dual-socket Power9 iron. The single-socket Power S914, as far as we know, is not eligible for this type of pricing.
We are still digging around to get an understanding of how this flexible utility pricing – which IBM seems to be calling Shared Utility Capacity in the most recent announcements – works on entry Power9 machines like the Power S922 and Power S924. IBM is looking at Shared Utility Capacity as a means of lowering the overall capital outlay for customers building clusters of Power S922 or Power S924 machines and linking them together with shared operating system licenses under its Enterprise Pools 2.0 systems software.
Here is an overall chart from the July 14 announcement that talks about the flexible consumption model:
The combination of the flexible consumption pricing and pay-per-use pricing for compute and other resources can lower the initial system price by as much as 58 percent, according to IBM. This other chart we found in various announcement decks gives a little more color on the Shared Utility Capacity, including the first use we have seen of this term:
In this case, the Power S922 and Power S924 machines have a processor with eight cores as a minimum, with one of them activated for either IBM i or AIX plus 256 GB of main memory and the base features in the chassis. The Enterprise Pools 2.0 software allows AIX and IBM i licenses to be moved around a cluster of these machines.
And here is yet another chart we found that gives us some of the pieces of the puzzle:
We see now that this has a pay by the minute charge for capacity above and beyond the base system configuration, and the idea is not just to lower the cash outlay for initial machines in a cluster, but to also lower it for those who buy one or possibly two machines in the entry class.
Here is another chart that moves the ball, showing us an AIX Enterprise Edition example with only one core activated compared to one with 20 cores activated:
The following is the most interesting chart we have come across, which shows the list price of a minimum configuration of a Power S922 with an eight-core Power9 chip, as outlined above for that 58 percent lower capital outlay:
I have to be honest. I have looked at this table of numbers a bunch of times, and I really don’t truly understand it yet.
On the left side, that is a base configuration of an AIX Enterprise Edition machine, which costs $26,500 at list price with those eight cores running at 3.4 GHz plus 256 GB of memory. In the right column, the pricing on the components is largely the same, but the interesting bit is that IBM seems to be charging $240 per Shared Utility Capacity credit, and that a credit gives you 130,000 minutes of processor core use and 50,000 minutes of AIX use per core. There are 525,960 minutes in a year, give or take how snotty you want to be about the length of a solar year and an Earth day. So it would take four credits to cover a year of use per core or about $960 and another 10.5 credits to cover the cost of AIX for a year, or about $2,525. The assumption, of course, is that no one would use all of the capacity all of the time.
We are going to try to get some real-world examples out of IBM about how this Shared Utility Capacity really works, particularly on Power S922 and Power S924 machines. I thought we had the data and could understand how this works, but as we go to press, we see that we have incomplete information. So stay tuned.