Yesterday, IBM announced that it is replacing its System i and System p product lines with a single, unified family of POWER6 processor-based servers. The new server line — known as Power Systems — will deliver improved price/performance, greater energy efficiency, greater flexibility, and a simplified pricing structure to System i and System p customers. The unification of the System i and p will have a significant impact on the choices of thousands of JD Edwards customers who rely on these servers.

While IBM has not yet announced all of the models that will make up the new Power Systems lineup, it made a good start on the project yesterday. Here’s a quick overview of what Big Blue unveiled.

  • The IBM Power 520 Express. For all intents and purposes, this server is identical to the System p Model 520 that IBM announced back in January. It runs on a single POWER6 processor with one, two, or four processor cores that clock out at 4.2GHz. A single core can support up to 10 logical partitions (LPARs), each with its own operating system and workloads. IBM is shipping AIX, Linux, and i (formerly known as i5/OS) Editions of the Power 520 Express. Each edition is configured to the requirements of its respective operating system. However, each Edition can run the other two operating systems without limitations. Any mix of AIX, i, and Linux partitions can be hosted.
     
  • The IBM Power 550 Express. This server contains two POWER6 processors with anywhere from two to eight active cores. Like its smaller cousin, it can support up to 10 LPARs per core and host any combination of AIX, i, and Linux environments. It also comes in AIX, i, and Linux Editions.
     
  • i Edition Express for BladeCenter S. IBM also added support for i 6.1 (formerly known i5/OS V6R1) to the BladeCenter JS12, a two-core POWER6 blade. The JS12 resides in the BladeCenter S, a chassis that houses up to twelve internal disk drives and six blade bays. IBM also announced that it will sell an entry-level configuration of the BladeCenter S with a JS12 blade, internal disk storage, and licenses for 10 i 6.1 users for around $13,000.

As a result of the unification, the former Systems i and p will now share one set of hardware feature codes with one set of prices. This means there is no more “System i premium” for processors, disk storage, tape drives, adapter cards, or anything else. The same statement applies to hardware maintenance contracts. This ensures that when it comes to hardware prices, Power Systems running i workloads will be truly competitive with Unix and Windows servers.

What does this mean for JD Edwards customers? First off, since all World customers and many EnterpriseOne users rely on the System i, they could realize considerable hardware savings. That said, be aware that the new Power Systems won’t make sense for everyone out of the chute. Some customers will discover that they can get more horsepower at a lower price by upgrading their current System i models to the previous generation of POWER5+ systems. Why? Because these older systems support many of their existing memory cards, older disk drives, and other hardware features while the POWER6 systems do not. Buying all new hardware features could easily make a POWER6 upgrade a bad financial deal.

Second, the new Power Systems could convince some JD Edwards EnterpriseOne customers to move their workloads off competitive servers. From the figures that I’ve seen, the new POWER6 servers beat just about every comparable Unix and Linux server out there in terms of price/performance, energy consumption, and floor space per unit of performance. Their sophisticated virtualization capabilities also make them excellent workload consolidation platforms.

If you want to know more about what the new Power Systems could offer your JD Edwards deployment, a good place to start is the IBM Oracle International Competency Center. This Denver-based team is dedicated to helping customers size, test, and optimize Oracle applications for IBM’s servers. I’ll also be happy to point you to additional resources if you leave a question in the reply box below.

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