Big Blue At Your Power Systems Service
February 14, 2022 Timothy Prickett Morgan
IBM may have spun off its managed services and system hosting businesses into Kyndryl, but it still has a sizable remaining technical support, systems integration, technology consulting, business transformation, and application operations business that represents close to 40 percent of its revenues. And so it is very keen on selling Power Systems shops all kinds of services.
To that end, IBM made two announcements last week regarding the Power Systems hardware platform.
The first, in announcement letter 222-033, is a new plan to offer Software Maintenance – what IBM i shops and resellers and even IBM itself usually call SWMA or “swamma” for short – under plans that have a term of two, four, or five years. Before you jump to the wrong conclusion, as I immediately did and then had to pull myself back, this does not mean that IBM is doing away with its existing SWMA contracts that run one or three years. Rather, these are additive, and now you can have a term running from one to five years. You get to choose. These SWMA subscriptions give customers access to product upgrades, fixes, and fix packages for the Power Systems stacks they buy.
The new contract terms (as in the time meaning of that word, not the conditions meaning of it) are available for Proactive Support for AIX, AIX 7 Enterprise Edition, Enterprise Cloud Edition with AIX 7, Enterprise Cloud (with early AIX at its core), Proactive Support for IBM i, and Proactive Support for SAP HANA. Parts of the IBM i stack other than the operating system, including Rational Developer, Db2 Mirror, PowerHA, Db2 Web Query, ARCAD Observer (which IBM resells), and the HMC Virtual Appliance also have the new terms available.
As usual, the longer you commit to the SWMA contract, the deeper the discounts, which is standard with IBM and others in the IT sector, but we can’t confirm what those prices are because IBM only sometimes publishes list prices for things, particularly when it comes to the services it sells. These are prepaid contracts, which is why IBM loves them. It gets to put your money in the bank now and recognize a piece of that revenue on its books each quarter, for which it is giving you a discount because it knows it already has the money. Considering how inflation is going, locking in the price now might be a pretty good idea. It is a very good guess that tech support prices are going to rise across the industry this year or next. They have to, with services being so dependent on people to deliver them. Here at The Four Hundred, we have resisted raising our prices this year – and for many, many years before that – but eventually we will have to do something.
In announcement letter 122-003 and announcement letter 622-003, which are slightly different from each other in that the former is aimed at customers and the latter is aimed at business partners and therefore have different levels of detail, we learn that IBM is offering two-year and four-year terms on its Power Expert Care for the “Denali” Power E0180 server that came out last September and that is the first Power10-based server in the market. You can bet that IBM will offer Power Expert Car services for other Power10 iron as well.
Power Expert Care is an additional hand-holding managed service for Power Systems machines that bundles together hardware and software maintenance and then adds other services on top of that. In fact, you have to buy SWMA and Proactive Support for the same terms as you want the Power Expert Care overlay to run. Hardware maintenance is 24×7, same day onsite response time. The Advanced version of the Power Care Expert is the base service – I know, people don’t understand language sometimes – and the Premium version offers what IBM calls Global Total Microcode Support, or GTMS. With this, IBM does an annual review of the microcode levels and also does a health check and security check on the hardware, operating system, and other systems software installed on the machine – in this case, the Power E1080. There are tools to track data storage and application activity as well as log reviews, too.
This is the kind of handholding service that many IBM i shops turn to from their reseller partners – you know, the people they buy machines from who also have the kind of deep expertise in Power Systems and IBM i that Big Blue is also peddling. We seriously doubt that IBM can compete with them on response and price, but there are probably very large IBM i and AIX accounts that would prefer to have the kind of global coverage that IBM can deliver rather than the national or regional coverage a lot of business partners provide.
Pricing for Power Expert Care services was not provided, of course.