More Price Hikes From IBM, Now For High End Storage
May 16, 2022 Timothy Prickett Morgan
The price increases at IBM just keep coming as the company passes on higher component costs, and very likely higher manufacturing and support costs, that it is experiencing thanks to the coronavirus pandemic on to customers. Now we are seeing higher prices on high-end external storage.
We have covered a number of IBM’s recent price hikes in the past several weeks, which you can see in the Related Stories section at the end of this report. But to characterize them briefly to put the new price increases into context, we have seen inflation in the prices for certain Power9 and Power10 systems and components and higher prices on IBM i, AIX, PowerVM, and PowerHA. And there was also a price increase on FlashSystem all-flash storage arrays, which are often deployed on high-end Power Systems machines running AIX and IBM i.
This week, we see that Big Blue has raised prices on its DS8000 series SAN storage, also commonly used on big IBM i iron, and on its Elastic Storage Server arrays based on its Spectrum Scale (formerly known as General Parallel File System) storage that was invented for the supercomputing space but which has expanded out to enterprise use beyond HPC. Price hikes also came to IBM’s Spectrum Fusion HCI container-native storage that underpins its OpenShift Kubernetes platform ands that is a variant of the GPFS file system that has erasure coding for data protection as well as all kinds of plug-ins to migrate data or cache it for applications running in containers.
Let’s go through the price changes now.
In announcement letter 322-396, dated May 10, you will find the price increases for the DS8000 series SAN arrays and selected features for them. The Excel spreadsheet for them is here, and in that you will see that flash drives and flash adapter cards used in the DS8000s had their prices upped by 18 percent. These things were in some cases already very expensive. For instance, feature #1625 for the DS8000, which is 16 high capacity 15.36 TB flash adapter cards bought as a chunk, now has a list price of $2.12 million, which is $132,381 a pop. That doesn’t include the DS8000 controller or anything else, and this capacity costs $8.62 per GB. A SAS-based flash drive that plus into a FlashSystem array costs $12,560 after its recent price hike – less than one-tenth the cost of the flash adapter card that goes into the DS8000 – and an NVM-Express version costs $59,570. Prices for 12 Gb/sec and 16 Gb/sec Fibre Channel connectivity adapters for the DS8000s rose by 26 percent, and 32 Gb/sec connectivity had a had a 49 percent hike. FICON fiber optic channel links to hook the DS8000 to IBM System z mainframes had a 40 percent increase. These were crazy expensive, too, even before the price changes, which go into effect on May 31.
The price changes on the Elastic Storage Server (a pre-bundled GPFS cluster that can be used for HPC, AI, and certain data analytics workloads) were actually divulged in announcement letter 322-383 on April 19. Prices for the NVM-Express flash drives used in the ESS appliance rose by 13 percent (and are consistent with prices on the FlashSystem) and prices on enterprise-class disk drives ranging in capacity from 10 TB to 18 TB rose by 5.6 percent to 6 percent, depending. These prices take effect on May 19, which is today as we go to press and which you can see in this spreadsheet.
The higher prices on the Spectrum Fusion HCI container storage, which could be relevant for many IBM i shops creating modern systems of engagement (rather than systems of record, as database engines like the IBM i platform tends to be), were also revealed on April 19 in announcement letter 322-382 and went into effect on the same day, unlike the changes on flash and disk for ESS appliances that were announced on the same day a month ago but are only going into effect now. The announcement says there was a price increase on a 16 GB memory stick, but the spreadsheet shows the price dropping hugely from $15,100 to $945. I think there is an error in the pricing spreadsheet for this announcement.