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IBM's Latest iSeries Hardware--A Closer Look

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When IBM unveiled the eServer i5 Model 595 earlier this month, it did a lot more than trot out a new high-end system. It also announced disk storage arrays that connect to the iSeries and eServer i5, a new Integrated xSeries Server (IXS) adapter, and a truckload of details about eServer i5 packaging and pricing. This week, we will sift through those announcements to find the nuggets of information that matter the most to iSeries customers.

Among all the pricing and packaging details that IBM announced, the ones that probably matter the most to high-end customers are those for the eServer i5 Model 595 itself. Last week, I promised that I would compare the price/performance of the Model 595 to its predecessors. This week, I am delivering on that promise. Before I start, however, let me warn you that there are many ways to compare price/performance, especially on high-end servers. You can use prices for the central electronics complex only (often known as the CEC). However, that excludes memory cards, and high-end servers often require six-figure expenditures on memory. If you include the memory cards, however, how much memory should you add? Moreover, what assumptions should you use for configuring disk storage, standby processors, and licenses to various operating systems? Since high-end servers can be configured in so many ways, there are dozens of ways to compare their price/performance. The best thing that any article can do, therefore, is analyze base configurations and then provide some guidance about how price/performance will change as customers add features to those configurations.

With these thoughts in mind, let's start by comparing base configurations (i.e., systems with the minimum memory and disk storage levels) of the eServer i5 Model 595 and the iSeries Model 890. Since the eServer i5 Model 570 has processor features that are in the same performance range as these two high-end systems, let's include those features as well. The following table provides details for the base configurations of the Standard and Enterprise Editions of each model, and then calculates a cost per CPW (IBM's relative performance rating for the iSeries) for each configuration.

 

Packaging and Pricing for iSeries 890 Versus eServer i5 Models 570 and 595
Model Number
Active/Standby
Processors
Performance
Standard Edition
Base Offering
Enterprise Edition
Base Offering
Active Processors2
Processors with i5/OS Licenses3
Base
Price/
Cost per CPW5
Active Processors2
Processors with i5/OS Licenses3
Enterprise Enablement Features4
Base
Price/
Cost per CPW5
890-2497
16/24-way
20000-29300 CPW
16
16
$750,000
$37.50/
CPW
16 + 11
16
NA
(Max 5250 is Standard)
$1,560,000
$78.00/
CPW
890-2498
24/32-way
29300-37400
CPW
24
24
$1,230,000
$41.98/CPW
24 + 11
24
NA
(Max 5250 is Standard)
$2,140,000
$73.04/
CPW
570-0924
9/12-way
25500-33400 CPW
9
4
$339,000
$13.29/
CPW
9 + 11
4
4
$970,000
$38.04/
CPW
570-0926
13/16-way
36300-44700 CPW
13
4
$404,000
$11.13/
CPW
13 + 11
4
4
$1,358,000
$37.41/
CPW
595-0946
8/16-way
24500-45500 CPW
8
4
$783,000
$31.96/
CPW
8 + 11
4
4
$1,549,000
$63.22/
CPW
595-0947
16/32-way
46000-85000 CPW
16
4
$1,436,000
$31.22/CPW
16 + 11
4
4
$2,223,000
$48.33/
CPW
595-0952
32/64-way
86000-165000 CPW
32
4
$2,714,000
$31.56/CPW
32 + 11
4
4
$3,578,000
$41.60/
CPW

1 The number of active processors includes one additional processor activation provided in the Enterprise Edition.
2 Additional processors may be activated at a cost of $15,000 (on the Model 890), $7,700 per processor (on the Model 570), or $21,000 (on the Model 595).
3 Additional i5/OS licenses are available for $45,000 per processor.
4 Additional Enterprise Enablement features may be purchased for the Models 570 and 595 if required. The cost is $150,000. Customers can also purchase maximum 5250 capacity on all active processors for $250,000 (on the Model 570) or $350,000 (on the Model 595).
5 Cost per CPW is calculated by dividing the base price for the minimal configuration of each model by the batch CPW rating for the minimal configuration.

As the table shows, the Model 570 has the lowest cost per CPW of any server in its performance range. The Model 570 is also in the less-expensive P40 software price tier, while the iSeries 890 and Model 595 are in the P50 and P60 tiers. Of course, the Model 570's low cost matters little if you need (or anticipate needing) more performance than the 44,700 CPW that the largest configuration provides. If you are in that elite group, only the Model 595 can meet your requirements.

Let's assume, however, that you are a more typical high-end customer who needs 25,000 to 40,000 CPW. You have some choices and trade-offs to make. You can pick the Model 570 for the lowest cost per CPW, the lowest software price tier, and the lowest memory costs of the three servers. On the other hand, picking the Model 570 will limit your scalability compared to the Model 595. Moreover, if you need to upgrade to the Model 595 (an upgrade that IBM offers), none of your Model 570 memory will migrate to the new server. You will have to buy all new memory, and while your IBM representative may find a way to soften the financial blow of that purchase, Big Blue is not officially offering credits for the old memory cards.

These trade-offs may lead you to consider the eServer i5 Model 595. If so, you will spend less per CPW on a new Model 595 than on a new iSeries 890. By using the figures in the table, I determined that base configurations of the Model 595 Standard Edition have a 15% to 26% lower cost per CPW than the iSeries 890 Standard Edition. For base configurations of the Enterprise Editions of the two models, the cost-per-CPW advantage ranges from 13% to 47%. Remember, however, that cost-per-CPW differences for real world configurations will vary from those for base configurations. Here are three factors that will affect the real-world cost per CPW that you get.

  • Memory prices--On a cost per GB basis, the memory features on the Model 595 are less expensive than those on the Model 890 up to the 8 GB level. However, the Model 595's 16 GB and 32 GB features cost more per GB than Model 890 memory. You can get these features at a cost per GB that is similar to that of the smaller cards but only if you buy 32 of the 16 GB cards or 16 of the 32 GB cards in a single 512 GB lot.
  • Operating system licenses--While the iSeries 890 comes with OS/400 licenses for all of its active processors, the eServer i5 Model 595 comes with only four i5/OS licenses. As such, you may need to purchase more i5/OS licenses on the Model 595 than you would on an iSeries 890. This could slightly reduce your cost-per-CPW advantage over the iSeries 890.
  • Interactive (5250) application requirements--The iSeries 890 Enterprise Edition provides maximum 5250 support on all of its active processors. By contrast, the eServer i5 Model 595 Enterprise Edition comes standard with the equivalent of four processors' worth of 5250 performance. If you need more 5250 capacity than four processors (approximately 12,000 CPW), you will need to buy additional Enterprise Enablement features. This would reduce, though not eliminate, your cost-per-CPW advantage over the iSeries 890.

Besides these three factors, one other factor may have the greatest impact on the cost per CPW you get: the discount that you negotiate with your IBM representative. Server discounts vary widely, and they vary the most on high-end systems like the Model 595. Just keep one thing in mind. Since iSeries revenues for the third quarter were off 26% from what they were a year ago, IBM is pulling out all the stops to increase sales in the fourth quarter. As such, the company will be highly motivated to cut deals with customers over the next two months. Use that motivation to negotiate the best terms, conditions, and pricing for your firm.

Peripherals Join the Product Party

While the spotlights have been on the eServer i5 Model 595 over the last week, other new hardware offerings deserve attention as well. Among them is a new, smaller IXS card that fits in the system units of all eServer i5 models. The card--known as feature code #4811, #4812, or #4813, depending on the eServer i5 model involved--uses the Intel Pentium M processor running at 2.0 GHz and comes standard with 1 GB of memory. The card's low-voltage processor throws off less heat than the Intel Xeon-based IXS that runs in the iSeries 8xx models. This allows it to operate in the close quarters of the rack-mounted eServer i5 models without overheating the systems. The following table compares the new IXS card to its Xeon-based cousin.

A Comparison of Current IXS Cards

IXS for iSeries (FC #4710/4810)
IXS for eServer i5 (FC #4811/4812/4813)
CPU
Intel Xeon, 2.0 GHz, 512 K L2 Cache
Intel Pentium M, 2.0 GHz, 2 MB L2 Cache
Memory
Up to 4 GB memory
Up to 2 GB (1 GB included in base)
Networking
Integrated 10/100 Mbps Ethernet
Integrated dual 1 Gigabit Ethernet
IOP Card
IOP built into card (no slot needed)
IOP required (included at no charge)
HW Support
  • Not supported in eServer i5 CECs
  • Supported in selected I/O towers attached to iSeries or eServer i5 (#5094, #5095/0595, #5088/0588, #5074, #9094)
  • Supported in eServer i5 CECs
  • Supported in selected I/O towers attached to iSeries or eServer i5 (#5094, #5095/0595, #5088/0588, #5074, #9094, and new #5790)
OS Support
Server: OS/400 V5R2, i5/OS V5R3
IXS card: Runs Windows or Linux
Server: i5/OS V5R3 only
IXS card: Runs Windows or Linux
List Price
$2,780 (when purchased with 1 GB of memory)
$2,780 (includes 1 GB of memory and IOP card)

(Source: IBM)  

As the table indicates, there are some benefits and trade-offs involved in using either of the latest IXS cards. The Xeon-based IXS has more memory capacity than the new IXS but does not support Gigabit Ethernet like the new card and does not fit in the eServer i5 system unit. On the other hand, the new card only runs under i5/OS, while the Xeon-based card also runs under OS/400 V5R2. Both cards will run in external I/O towers that attach to either the iSeries or eServer i5. However, the Pentium M IXS card requires two slots: one for the card and another for the IOP adapter. As such, the new IXS card is best suited for the eServer i5 system unit or for the new #5790 PCI-X Expansion Unit that fits in the eServer i5 rack. If you're planning to put IXS cards in an external I/O tower that attaches to an eServer i5, you should give first consideration to the Xeon-based card.

On another front, IBM has announced two new storage arrays that run on POWER processors and attach to the iSeries and the eServer i5. The TotalStorage DS6000 array utilizes 3U-high drives, fits into the eServer i5 racks, and expands from 580 GB up to 67 TB. The TotalStorage DS8000 is a refrigerator-sized unit with an architecture that can scale to multiple petabytes of data. In addition, the DS8000 lets users create logical partitions that enable them to meet unique performance requirements for different workloads and data sets. Both arrays support OS/400 V5R2 and i5/OS and can also support multi-path I/O under i5/OS. The new arrays begin shipping on December 3, 2004, though volume shipments will not begin until early 2005.

With the announcement of these new peripherals and the eServer i5 Model 595, IBM has put the finishing touches on its POWER5 generation of servers. As a result, customers can finally make their buying decisions based on complete information about a complete product line. This means that IBM and its Business Partners should receive many more requests for proposal in the coming months than they did earlier this year. That should help Big Blue in its efforts to turn around iSeries sales in the critically important final quarter of this year.

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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    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericDuring this webinar, you’ll learn basic tips, helpful tools, and integrated file system commands—including WRKLNK—for managing your IFS directories and Access Client Solutions (ACS). We’ll answer your most pressing IFS questions, including:

    • What is stored inside my IFS directories?
    • How do I monitor the IFS?
    • How do I replicate the IFS or back it up?
    • How do I secure the IFS?

    Understanding what the integrated file system is and how to work with it must be a critical part of your systems management plans for IBM i.

     

  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.

     

     

  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • How to Meet the Newest Encryption Requirements on IBM i

    SB PowerTech WC GenericA growing number of compliance mandates require sensitive data to be encrypted. But what kind of encryption solution will satisfy an auditor and how can you implement encryption on IBM i? Watch this on-demand webinar to find out how to meet today’s most common encryption requirements on IBM i. You’ll also learn:

    • Why disk encryption isn’t enough
    • What sets strong encryption apart from other solutions
    • Important considerations before implementing encryption

     

     

  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.

     

     

  • Fight Cyber Threats with IBM i Encryption

    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

     

     

     

  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.

     

  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.

     

     

  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.

     

     

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  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.