The Scoop On The Full Subscription Power S1014 With IBM i
September 12, 2022 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Even before the Power10 entry and midrange servers were announced by Big Blue on July 12, we did a thought experiment at the end of June about a rumored hardware-software-maintenance bundle on the single-socket Power S1014 server aimed at IBM i customers with a single monthly subscription price. And for fun, that thought experiment compared the monthly cost of a high-end iPhone smartphone with cell service and a data plan – somewhere between $75 and $80 – to what we expected such a full subscription-based, on premises Power S1014 would cost. We figured it would be around $50 per IBM i seat per month.
That full Power S1014 subscription offering was not announced on July 12, so we have had to wait to see the details, which were finally divulged on September 6 while IT Jungle was away on holiday. We are gratified to report that IBM’s thinking and our thinking aligned perfectly, and Big Blue is indeed charging around $50 per user per month for the bundle and it also agrees with our smartphone comparison and the pricing we ginned up.
Take a gander at this chart shared by Dylan Boday, vice president of product management for hybrid cloud for something called the Systems and AI division at IBM:
As expected, this Power S1014 subscription setup, which is also detailed in announcement letter 122-090, has a single core which we presume is running at the 3 GHz speed as a regular Power S1014 server; this core can turbo boost to 3.9 GHz, and considering there is only one core out of 16 on the Power10 chiplet on the Power10 package activated, it should turbo a lot.
The four-core Power10 processor used in the Power S1014 server is rated at 106,300 units on the Commercial Performance Workload (CPW) test that Big Blue uses to evaluate IBM i relative OLTP performance across its Power Systems. That should mean the single core should be rated with at least 26,600 CPWs. This machine has a meager 64 GB of main memory; we were hoping IBM would double this to 128 GB, but a lot of shops can get by on 64 GB apparently. This setup is in the P05 OS/400 and IBM i software tier, and the machine comes with 25 users licensed for the system. IBM is finally coming around to the idea that this is a platform as a service, or PaaS, since database software and application development software is bundled in.
Boday says that IBM went back into its installed base of Power S814 and Power S914 accounts and calculated that the base configuration of this Power S1014 subscription machine would cover 76 percent of the customers.
There are a few variables to the configuration, which Boday outlined in this chart:
There are a few different I/O options for Ethernet and Fibre Channel networking, and different sized NVM-Express flash drives that will cause the price to wiggle around a bit. Boday says that the default is to have two flash drives of the same capacity in the system. So we presume that the base offering has a two-port Ethernet adapter and two 800 GB flash drives.
The Power S1014 bundle comes with terms of three, four, or five years. The four-year package will be available on September 23 and has configurable options, and the three year and five year setups will be available in early October. On the four-year and five-year terms, the base configuration of the Power S1014 subscription costs $16,250 per year for 25 users, which works out to $54.17 per user per month. IBM is charging a slight 15 percent premium for the three-year term, at $18,685, which is $62.29 per user per month. Adding users above the base 25 users costs $75 per user per month and you have to buy them in blocks of five users. After paying for 50 users, each additional user is then free. Customers have to pay annually for their subscriptions, and this is something that IBM i customers asked for rather than an actual monthly charge, according to Boday.
“We actually looked at other durations and terms, and many customers viewed monthly charges as too much additional work,” he says. “We have the levers to do that if we need bill monthly, but for now it is annual charges.”
IBM is clearly trying to give customers who have around 25 users or more than 50 users the best deal, and wants customers to go for the four-year or five-year terms to try to level out its revenue streams across more time. IBM is not offering upgrades of machines. When and if IBM offers larger Power10 machines with subscription bundles, if you want a new setup, you have to sign a new deal with IBM. We think it is likely that IBM will do net-difference pricing on box swaps for customers who have money on the books for machines, but Boday didn’t make any promises here.
“Our number one goal is to maintain a fleet currency for our customers,” explains Boday. “And so, we will look at whatever we have to do for subscription terms and contract duration to best facilitate that for the customer.”
The subscription-based Power S1014 can be configured with with IBM i 7.3, IBM i 7.4, or IBM i 7.5..
Given the high CPW rating of the single Power10 core, which is roughly 2X the Power9 core and roughly 4X the Power8 core, we wondered if IBM had considered renting a fractional core in the Power S1014, say maybe one with 25 percent of the full core and another with 50 percent. Boday says that the small IBM i shops are used to having a full core, and it makes sense to keep it simple and stay at a single, full core of performance.
This being an on premises, cloud-priced, subscription offering, IBM therefore retains ownership of all Power S1014 systems sold under this subscription deal.
As part of the subscription for the Power S1014, Software Maintenance with 24×7 support is included, as is hardware maintenance. IBM is also throwing in its Technical Account Manager (TAM) add-on, which gives a dedicated tech support person to each company to do proactive and preventative tech support on the Power S1014. IBM also does remove code load for firmware once a year on the machine and offers 30-minute response time for Severity 1 and Severity 2 events. IBM does not update or patch the IBM i operating system, but makes recommendations on how customers (or their business partners) can handle this.
I think every Power10 entry and midrange server should have a similar deal, and for all CPU variations and with reasonable peripheral variations. Why not?