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New System i 525 Solution Editions Debut, 570 Gets Tweaked

New System i 525 Solution Editions Debut, 570 Gets Tweaked

Published: October 15, 2007

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

The Solution Editions of the System i product line have come full circle. Originally, the iSeries and System i5 Solution Edition machines were variants on regular Express configurations with OS/400 or i5/OS Enterprise Edition or Standard Edition that were preconfigured to support a reasonable number of users of popular ERP software for the platform. Then, in October 2006, IBM tested out the idea of user-based software pricing with special i5 520 Solution Edition machines. Last week, the user-priced System i5 525 was converted back to a Solution Edition for Oracle and SAP suites.

Both of the new Solution Edition machines are based on the System i 525 with a two-core Power5+ processor running at 1.9 GHz (feature 8330); only one of the cores is activated in the machine, and it is rated at 3,800 CPWs of raw computing power. With both cores turned on, the machine is rated at 7,100 CPWs, just like a regular System i 525 or the equivalent i5 520 Express configuration from last year. The machine comes with a base wide area network (WAN) I/O processor (which is required to link to IBM's electronic customer support), a 40 MB cache for the integrated RAID 5 disk controller on the machine's motherboard, and four 70 GB 15K RPM disk drives. IBM's announcement letter for the two new System i 525 Solution Editions did not say how much memory is in the base box, so presumably it is zero. Memory costs $550 per GB on the System i 515 and 525 machines.

The Solution Edition variants of the 525 box comes with i5/OS V5R4 on one of those Power5+ processor cores and a license to have a maximum of 60 concurrent users accessing the system. IBM is also tossing in a license to iSeries Access, its client/server program, for an unlimited number of users, and the right to partition the machine using its Virtualization Engine hypervisor (up to 10 partitions per core, running i5/OS, Linux, or AIX).

Whether the machine is running the Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne or SAP's mySAP suite, the price of the box is the same at $22,500. This is a lot lower than the $34,900 price tag of a base System i 525 machine, which would require another $7,500 to add another 30 users to reach the same number allowed on the Solution Edition machines. That works out to a 47 percent discount off the base hardware price, by the way.

The advent of this machine means three things. One, IBM is having trouble peddling JDE and SAP suites to i5/OS and OS/400 shops using the larger i5 550 Solution Edition boxes, which are aimed at customers who have 100 or more users, which are a lot more expensive even if they do have more oomph and expandability. This might have more to do with the number of users per site among the JDE and SAP bases that IBM is chasing than it has to do with its hardware. Two, the existing i5 520 Solution Edition machines, which do not have enough expansion, are less suited to JDE and SAP workloads than the 525. And third, the other vendors who can sell their wares on the i5 550 are screaming to be allowed to push this box. That would include Agilysys, Clear Technologies, IBS, Infor, Jack Henry & Associates, Lawson Software, Manhattan Associates, and Retalix.

Whether it is on a regular 525 machine or on a 525 Solution Edition, activating that second core could cost $1,800, and an i5/OS license for the second core would cost an additional $5,995 (not including Software Maintenance for the extra core because presumably this ERP software is based on tiers, not core counts).

IBM is offering additional disk packages for customers who need more storage I/O or capacity--or both--on the System i 525 Solution Edition. The tower disk package includes a feature 9372 expansion tower, a feature 9397 disk controller, eight 70 GB disks (feature 9370), and a High Speed Link port (feature 9371). The rack disk package changes the wrapping on this to a feature 9369 expansion drawer. There is also an EXP24 disk package offering, which has a feature 9378 disk drawer, a feature 9379 disk controller, the eight disks, and two disk slot enablers. No matter what configuration customers choose--the EXP24s are supported on other IBM platforms, which is of some technical and probably some economic value--the configuration costs $18,000. Customers can order a maximum of two of these disk expansion configurations for this machine.

The new System i 525 Solution Editions will be available on October 19.

In addition to the new System i 525 Solution Edition box, IBM also said that it had created a special variant of the new Power6-based System i 570 that supports three chasses and creates a machine with a maximum of a dozen processor cores. Up until now, customers could do one, two, or four chasses as they scaled up a 570-class machine based on Power5, Power5+, or Power6 processors. Customers can take an existing two-chassis box and add one or take a single chassis box and add two. The configuration requires a special three-port expansion cable, which costs $4,000. Such a 12-core System i 570 machine is rated at 15,500 CPWs with three cores activated (one in each chassis) and ranges up to 58,000 CPWs with all dozen cores activated. The machine holds a maximum of 576 GB of main memory and has six HSL or 12X I/O loops for peripheral connectivity.

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