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IBM Announcements Create New Upgrade Paths

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Over the last two months, IBM has expanded and modified its eServer i5 family of systems to create dozens of new upgrade options for iSeries users. Those options deserve examination, as they have changed the upgrade decision process for many customers.

As those of you who have read my recent articles know, most customers can pay less per CPW for an upgrade to an eServer i5 than for one to a comparable iSeries Model 8xx. They can also reduce ongoing ownership costs because of IBM's modest fees for eServer i5 maintenance contracts. Since I wrote my last upgrade analysis, however, the Model 550 announcement--not to mention several other developments at IBM--has added new wrinkles to your upgrade considerations. Here are the most important developments.

  • IBM's new packaging and pricing system--As I explained in an article earlier this month, IBM has unbundled the cost of some i5/OS licenses and 5250 application capacity from the list prices for its multiprocessor eServer i5 models. This not only reduced their base prices by tens of thousands of dollars, but also reduced base prices for upgrades to these models by similar amounts. As a result, some customers--particularly those who have minimal 5250 workloads or intend to run Linux or AIX on the eServer i5--may spend less on upgrades to n-way models than they would have two months ago.
  • The Model 550 and Model 570 announcements--Besides announcing the Model 550, IBM also rolled out Model 570 servers that offer 5 to 16 active processors. These servers provide upgrade paths for Model 870 and 890 owners that were not available when Big Blue initially unveiled the eServer i5 product line.
  • Changes in store for the two-processor Model 520--When IBM announced the two-way Model 520 last May, it put the system in the P30 software price tier. That seemed reasonable when the only alternative to this model was a two-way Model 570 that was also in the P30 tier. However, when IBM announced the Model 550, it created a 1/4-way server that offers a greater performance range than the two-way Model 520 but is in the less expensive P20 software tier. Sources inside IBM have told me that to fix this inconsistency, the company will move the two-way Model 520 to the P20 tier very soon. In the meantime, customers can use the special bid process to request P20 software pricing with any upgrade to the server.

It is also likely that IBM will offer one-step upgrades from selected Model 8xx servers to the two-way Model 520 in the near future. At present, customers who choose this path must first upgrade to a one-way Model 520, then upgrade that server to the two-way level. It is possible to order the first upgrade, then order the second upgrade after the first upgrade has shipped, then install both upgrades in a single day. Still, it would make life easier for everyone if IBM were to combine those two upgrades into a single package. Such a package is apparently in the works.

Considering the changes that IBM has made to the eServer i5 line, it is time to revisit our original upgrade analyses and see how they have changed. The rest of this article examines upgrade options for the iSeries 810, the smallest iSeries 8xx that is upgradeable to a POWER5 server. I'll cover the remaining models in future articles.

Upgrade Considerations for the iSeries 810

If you own an iSeries 810, the first place you should go for an upgrade analysis is an article that I wrote three months ago. This will provide the background information that you need in order to understand the following paragraphs. Since I wrote that analysis in late May, the following changes have taken place.

  • In a smart move, IBM added an upgrade from the iSeries 810-2465 Enterprise Edition (rated at 750 CPW) to the eServer i5 Model 520-0902 Enterprise Edition (rated at 1,000 CPW). Previously, the smallest POWER5 server upgrade available for this iSeries model was to the next larger Model 520 (rated at 2,400 CPW) at a cost of $78,000. By contrast, the new upgrade path costs $24,300. Unfortunately, IBM is not offering a similar upgrade path for the 810-2465Standard Edition.

  • With the announcement of the Model 550, iSeries 810 owners who need more horsepower than a Model 520 can upgrade to the Model 550 or 570. The following table analyzes selected upgrade paths from the iSeries 810 to both of these POWER5 models. Please note that in this table, I have configured two-way and four-way versions of the Model 550 and 570 that you can compare on an "apples to apples" basis. Consult the footnotes to see how I configured and priced the upgrades.

 

Upgrades from the iSeries 810 to the eServer i5 550 and 570--A Comparison
"From"
Processor
Feature Code
"To" Processor Feature Code
550-0915
Standard
2 Active CPUs
6000 CPW
550-0915
Enterprise
2 Active CPUs
6000 CPW1
550-0915
Standard
4 Active CPUs
12000 CPW2
550-0915
Enterprise
4 Active CPUs
12000 CPW4
570-0930
Standard
2 Active CPUs
6000 CPW3
570-0930
Enterprise
2 Active CPUs
6000 CPW
570-0921
Standard
4 Active CPUs
12000 CPW2
570-0921
Enterprise
4 Active CPUs
12000 CPW3
810-2465
Standard
750 CPW
$65,600
$12/CPW

$81,000
$7/CPW

$71,400
$14/CPW

N/A

810-2465
Enterprise
750 CPW

$336,200
$64/CPW

$551,600
$49/CPW

$270,600
$52/CPW

N/A
810-2466
Standard
1020 CPW
$65,200
$13/CPW

$80,600
$7/CPW

$71,400
$14/CPW

$89,800
$8/CPW

810-2466
Enterprise
1020 CPW

$327,000
$66/CPW

$542,400
$49/CPW

$261,400
$52/CPW

$414,400
$38/CPW
810-2467
Standard
1470 CPW
$62,800
$14/CPW

$78,200
$7/CPW

$68,600
$15/CPW

$85,400
$8/CPW

810-2467
Enterprise
1470 CPW

$310,200
$68/CPW

$525,600
$50/CPW

$244,600
$54/CPW

$397,600
$38/CPW
810-2469
Standard
2700 CPW
$56,000
$17/CPW

$71,400
$7/CPW

$61,800
$19/CPW

$78,600
$8/CPW

810-2469
Enterprise
2700 CPW

$266,200
$81/CPW

$481,600
$52/CPW

$200,600
$61/CPW

$353,600
$38/CPW

1 The upgrade price includes the cost of adding an additional Enterprise Enablement Feature at a cost of $100,000. This makes the 550-0915 Enterprise Edition with two active processors equal in function to the 570-0930 Enterprise Edition with two active processors that is shown in this table.
2 The upgrade price includes the cost of activating two standby processors at $7,700 per processor.
3 The upgrade price includes the cost of activating one standby processor at $7,700 per processor.
4 The upgrade price includes the cost of activating two standby processors at $7,700 per processor and three Enterprise Enablement Features at a cost of $300,000. This makes the 550-0915 Enterprise Edition with four active processors equal in function to the 570-0921 Enterprise Edition with four active processors that is shown in this table.

As the above table shows, customers that own an iSeries 810 Standard Edition will pay less per CPW for an upgrade to the Model 550 than to an equivalent Model 570. This makes the Model 550 Standard Edition the most cost-effective option for companies that need 6,000 to 12,000 CPWs. On the other hand, it seems that upgrades to the Model 550 Enterprise Edition are more expensive than upgrades to the equivalent Model 570. However, that is only the case if you need more than 3,300 CPW of 5250 application performance on your server. If you need less than 3,300 CPW, you should back out all of the Enterprise Enablement features that I added to the Model 550 upgrades in the table. When you do that, the Model 550 Enterprise Edition becomes the better deal.

In addition, the Model 550 will generally have a lower overall cost of ownership than the Model 570. Its software costs less because it is in the P20 software tier rather than the P30 tier of the Model 570. Moreover, the Model 550 has monthly maintenance charges that are significantly less than those for an equivalent Model 570. Taken together, these differences may make the Model 550 Enterprise Edition a better upgrade option for customers even if they need more than 3,300 CPW of 5250 performance.

As you can see, IBM's latest announcements give customers many new options from which to choose, but finding the best option requires a solid understanding of your existing workloads and careful planning. That planning is best done with a knowledgeable IBM representative. In future articles, I'll give you the tools you will need to talk with that representative if you're upgrading other iSeries 8xx models, so stay tuned.

Lee Kroon is a Senior Industry Analyst for Andrews Consulting Group, a firm that helps mid-sized companies manage business transformation through technology. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

LEE KROON
Lee Kroon is a Senior Industry Analyst for Andrews Consulting Group, a firm that helps mid-sized companies manage business transformation through technology.
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