Owners of Older iSeries Models Ponder Upgrade Paths

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The summer holidays are ending, and iSeries managers are trading in their beach sandals for application backlogs. Chances are good that many of them will also consider whether to upgrade their old iSeries servers to newer models. They have good reason to do so, as the new eServer i5 systems--not to mention an IBM deadline that is only a few weeks away--make this a pivotal moment to study upgrade options.

The deadline to which I am referring falls on October 1, and it holds importance for all owners of iSeries Model 820, 830, and 840 servers. That is the day when IBM will cease to offer processor and interactive feature upgrades within or between these models. While owners of these systems will not be able to upgrade them within the 820/830/840 series, they will still be able to upgrade them to the newer iSeries 8xx models--the 810, 825, 870, and 890--as well as to the eServer i5.

With the deadline fast approaching, many owners of these older models will be weighing their options. If you are among them, I can tell you that you will rarely find a case where it makes sense to upgrade within your existing model number. If you upgrade within the Model 820/830/840 series, your cost will be much higher than it will be if you upgrade to a newer iSeries 8xx or eServer i5 of comparable performance. In addition, you will probably pay higher monthly maintenance charges that increase your ongoing cost of ownership.

Here is an example that illustrates my point. Suppose that you own a Model 830-2400 that has 1,850 CPW of processor performance and 240 CPW of 5250 application performance. You want a server that has at least twice the processor performance, twice the 5250 performance, and Capacity Upgrade on Demand (CUoD) processors. Until the end of this month, you can upgrade to a 4/8-way Model 830-2349 with four active CPUs, 4,200 CPW of processor performance, and 560 CPW of 5250 performance. That upgrade has a list price of $359,000, but it will also move you to the P40 software price tier and slap you with additional software license fees.

By contrast, you could upgrade from that same Model 830-2400 to a 3/6-way iSeries 825 Enterprise Edition with four active CPUs, 4,600 CPW of processor performance, and unlimited 5250 performance for a list price of $248,400. You would pay less, get more processor and 5250 performance, and avoid license upgrade fees by staying within the P30 software tier. You would also pay about $500 less per month on maintenance charges compared to an upgrade within the Model 830. Clearly, upgrading to the Model 825 makes more financial sense.

Taking the POWER5 Leap

While upgrading out of the Model 820/830/840 generation makes sense for most owners of these systems, the question remains whether the target server should be an iSeries 8xx or an eServer i5. To answer that question, let's look at the decision from several angles.

The first and most obvious angle to consider is the financial one. On this count, the eServer i5 wins in almost all cases. Most 820/830/840 owners will find that they pay less on an upfront basis for an eServer i5 upgrade, and they also save money on maintenance charges. Suppose that you want to upgrade a Model 820 or 830 and that you will never need more than 6,000 CPW of processor performance on the resulting system. If so, your least expensive alternative will usually be the eServer i5 Model 520 instead of an iSeries 8xx. To see what I mean, click over to my previous articles that analyze upgrade costs for the Model 820 and the Model 830.

If you are upgrading a Model 820 or 830 and project that you will eventually need more than 6,000 CPW on the target system, your alternatives are somewhat different. If you won't need more than 12,000 CPW during the life of the system, an upgrade to the eServer i5 550 will probably cost you less per CPW than a comparable iSeries 8xx. If you anticipate needing more than 12,000 CPW down the line, upgrading to the eServer i5 570 will probably cost you the least over the life of the system. Of course, you could upgrade to the Model 550 now if you currently need less than 12,000 CPW. Once you exceed the 12,000 CPW ceiling of the Model 550, however, you will not be able to upgrade to the Model 570, as there are no upgrades between eServer i5 model numbers.

The following table compares upgrades from selected Model 820 configurations to the iSeries 825 and 870 as well as to the eServer i5 Model 550 and 570. While the table does not compare upgrade options for the Model 830, I can assure you that the price differences are quite similar.

Selected iSeries 820 Upgrade Options--List Prices and Costs per CPW
"From" Processor
Feature Code
"From"
Interactive
Feature Code/
CPW
"To" Enterprise Edition Models
825-2473
3600-6600 CPW1
870-2489
7700-11500 CPW1
550-0915
2 Active CPUs
6000 CPW3
550-0915
4 Active CPUs
12000 CPW4
570-0930
2 Active CPUs
6000 CPW5
570-0921
4 Active CPUs
12000 CPW6
820-2435
600 CPW
1521/35 CPW
$308,000
$103/CPW

$285,600
$53/CPW
$391,000
$34/CPW
$320,700
$59/CPW
N/A
1522/70 CPW
$296,800
$99/CPW

$283,600
$53/CPW
$389,000
$34/CPW
$318,700
$59/CPW
N/A
1523/120 CPW
$276,000
$92/CPW

$278,400
$52/CPW
$383,800
$34/CPW
$313,500
$58/CPW
N/A
1524/240 CPW
$246,000
$82/CPW

$274,400
$51/CPW
$379,800
$33/CPW
$309,400
$57/CPW
N/A
820-2436
1100 CPW
1521/35 CPW
$293,100
$117/CPW

$278,400
$57/CPW
$383,800
$35/CPW
$313,500
$64/CPW
$557,000
$51/CPW
1522/70 CPW
$281,900
$113/CPW

$276,400
$56/CPW
$381,800
$35/CPW
$311,500
$64/CPW
$555,000
$51/CPW
1523/120 CPW
$261,100
$104/CPW

$271,200
$55/CPW
$376,600
$35/CPW
$306,300
$63/CPW
$549,800
$50/CPW
1524/240 CPW
$231,100
$92/CPW

$267,200
$55/CPW
$372,600
$34/CPW
$302,200
$62/CPW
$545,800
$50/CPW
1525/560 CPW
$167,100
$67/CPW

$243,200
$50/CPW
$348,600
$32/CPW
$278,200
$57/CPW
$521,800
$48/CPW
820-2437
2350 CPW
1521/35 CPW
$260,600
$208/CPW
$547,400
$102/CPW
$262,800
$72/CPW
$368,200
$38/CPW
$297,900
$82/CPW
$541,400
$56/CPW
1522/70 CPW
$249,400
$200/CPW
$545,200
$102/CPW
$260,800
$71/CPW
$366,200
$38/CPW
$295,900
$81/CPW
$539,400
$56/CPW
1523/120 CPW
$228,600
$183/CPW
$540,400
$101/CPW
$255,600
$70/CPW
$361,000
$37/CPW
$290,700
$80/CPW
$534,200
$55/CPW
1524/240 CPW
$198,600
$159/CPW
$537,400
$100/CPW
$251,600
$69/CPW
$357,000
$37/CPW
$286,600
$79/CPW
$530,200
$55/CPW
1525/560 CPW
$134,600
$108/CPW
$513,400
$96/CPW
$227,600
$62/CPW
$333,000
$35/CPW
$262,600
$72/CPW
$506,200
$52/CPW
1526/1050 CPW
$83,600
$67/CPW
$451,400
$84/CPW
$205,900
$56/CPW
$311,300
$32/CPW
$241,000
$66/CPW
$484,500
$50/CPW
820-2438
3700 CPW
1521/35 CPW
Available2
$531,300
$133/CPW
$245,800
$107/CPW
$351,200
$42/CPW
$280,900
$122/CPW
$524,400
$63/CPW
1522/70 CPW
Available2
$529,100
$132/CPW
$243,800
$106/CPW
$349,200
$42/CPW
$278,900
$121/CPW
$522,400
$63/CPW
1523/120 CPW
Available2
$524,300
$131/CPW
$238,600
$104/CPW
$344,000
$41/CPW
$273,700
$119/CPW
$517,200
$62/CPW
1524/240 CPW
Available2
$521,300
$130/CPW
$234,600
$102/CPW
$340,000
$41/CPW
$269,600
$117/CPW
$513,200
$62/CPW
1525/560 CPW
Available2
$497,300
$124/CPW
$210,600
$92/CPW
$316,000
$38/CPW
$245,600
$107/CPW
$489,200
$59/CPW
1526/1050 CPW
Available2
$435,300
$109/CPW
$188,900
$82/CPW
$294,300
$35/CPW
$224,000
$97/CPW
$467,500
$56/CPW
1527/2000 CPW
Available2
$415,300
$104/CPW
$150,600
$65/CPW
$256,000
$31/CPW
$185,600
$81/CPW
$429,200
$52/CPW

1 List prices and costs per CPW for upgrades to the iSeries 825, iSeries 870, and i5 570 are based on upgrades to servers with the minimum number of activated processors running OS/400. This creates an iSeries 825 running at 3,600 CPW and an iSeries 870 running at 7,700 CPW.
2 An upgrade to this model is available, but the upgrade requires that additional processors be activated running either OS/400 or Linux. Upgrade prices vary based on the number of processor activations and the selection of either OS/400 or Linux for the activated processors.
3 The upgrade price includes the cost of purchasing an additional i5/OS license for the second processor at a cost of $45,000. The price quoted provides 3,300 CPW of 5250 application performance.
4 The upgrade price includes the cost of activating two standby processors at $7,700 per processor and purchasing three additional i5/OS licenses at a cost of $$135,000. The price quoted provides 3,300 CPW of 5250 application performance.
5 The upgrade price includes the cost of purchasing an additional i5/OS license for the second processor at a cost of $45,000. The price quoted provides 6,000 CPW of 5250 application performance.
6 The upgrade price includes the cost of activating one standby processor for $7,700 per processor and purchasing three additional i5/OS licenses at a cost of $$135,000. The price quoted provides 12,000 CPW of 5250 application performance.

While the financial advantages of an eServer i5 upgrade are clear, other considerations may steer you toward an iSeries 8xx upgrade. One of these is the ability of your applications to run on i5/OS V5R3, the only OS/400 release that the eServer i5 supports. If your software vendors charge extra for support or do not support this release, the iSeries 8xx may make more sense for you. In addition, you may have to pay more to migrate feature cards and I/O subsystems from your Model 820/830/840 to an eServer i5 than to an iSeries 8xx. The only way to know is by consulting your IBM representative or Business Partner and getting detailed quotes. When you compare quotes, remember to include maintenance costs in your financial considerations. Over time, most customers will spend considerably less to maintain an eServer i5 versus a comparable iSeries 8xx.

Speaking of quotes, there are certain situations in which you should ask for quotes on both the eServer i5 Model 550 and Model 570. If you find that both of these models fit your desired performance range and you need more than 3,300 CPW of 5250 application performance, ask for upgrade quotes on both models. If you need less than 3,300 CPW of 5250 performance, the eServer i5 Model 550 quote will beat the Model 570 quote almost every time.

What About the Model 840?

If you are a Model 840 owner, the only eServer i5 that you can upgrade to is the Model 570. Your iSeries options are the Model 870 and 890. Since all of these models can be configured in a dizzying number of ways, it is impossible to provide a complete analysis of all upgrade paths. Such an analysis would probably be a waste of time anyway, as most Model 840 owners will insist on comparing detailed quotes for several upgrade paths. In general, however, most owners will find that the new 5- to 16-way Model 570 systems are the best financial bet. The following table shows the cost advantages that owners of the iSeries 840-2418 can realize by upgrading to the Model 570 instead of to the iSeries 870 or 890.

Selected iSeries 840 Upgrade Options--List Prices and Costs per CPW
"From" Processor
Feature Code
"From"
Interactive
Feature Code/
CPW
"To" Enterprise Edition Models
870-2486
(8/16-way)
11500-20000 CPW1
890-2497
(16/24-way)
20000-29300 CPW1
890-2498
(24/32-way)
29300-37400 CPW1
570-0922
(5/8-way)
15200-23500 CPW2
570-0924
(9/12-way)
25500-33400 CPW2
570-0926
(13/16-way)
36300-44700 CPW2
840-2418
(12-way)
10000 CPW
1540/120 CPW
$694,800
$463/CPW
$1,339,400
$134/CPW
$1,919,600
$99/CPW
$515,400
$99/CPW
$995,500
$64/CPW
$1,554,800
$59/CPW
1541/240 CPW
$687,800
$459/CPW
$1,329,400
$133/CPW
$1,909,600
$99/CPW
$505,900
$97/CPW
$986,000
$64/CPW
$1,545,300
$59/CPW
1542/560 CPW
$680,800
$454/CPW
$1,321,400
$132/CPW
$1,901,600
$99/CPW
$497,100
$96/CPW
$977,200
$63/CPW
$1,536,300
$58/CPW
1543/1050 CPW
$646,800
$431/CPW
$1,288,400
$129/CPW
$1,868,600
$97/CPW
$464,800
$89/CPW
$977,900
$61/CPW
$1,504,300
$57/CPW
1544/2000 CPW
$575,800
$384/CPW
$1,240,400
$124/CPW
$1,809,600
$94/CPW
$437,800
$84/CPW
$917,900
$59/CPW
$1,477,200
$56/CPW
1545/4550 CPW
$400,800
$267/CPW
$1,163,400
$116/CPW
$1,692,600
$88/CPW
$372,800
$72/CPW
$852,900
$55/CPW
$1,412,200
$54/CPW
1546/10000 CPW
$388,800
$259/CPW
$1,163,400
$116/CPW
$1,692,600
$88/CPW
$233,700
$45/CPW
$713,800
$46/CPW
$1,273,100
$48/CPW

1 List prices and costs per CPW are based on upgrades to servers with the minimum number of activated processors and with all activated processors licensed to run OS/400.
2 List prices and costs per CPW are based on upgrades to servers with the minimum number of activated processors and with all activated processors licensed to run i5/OS.

In short, there are very few situations when owners of Model 820/830/840 servers will save money by upgrading to another iSeries 8xx instead of to a comparable eServer i5. Of course, there may be non-financial reasons to prefer an iSeries upgrade. If you work for a company that has such reasons, however, I would encourage you to find a way around them. Compared to the iSeries 8xx, the eServer i5 offers many new functions and higher levels of flexibility. Over time, those differences will enable most IT shops to deliver higher returns on investment and greater business value to their users. That makes the eServer i5 an upgrade option that is worth serious consideration.

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..

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