IBM ‘Freshens Up’ System i with Per-User Pricing

IBM  is rolling out two Express versions of its all-in-one System i business server.

System i is used to help customers manage their IT infrastructure by running disparate operating systems, such
as Windows and Linux, and applications in a single location.

As with other IBM Express products, System i Express, unveiled at an event at IBM’s Lotus campus in Cambridge, Mass. today, is designed to appeal to cost-conscious small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

The Armonk, N.Y.-based systems vendor does this by focusing on core features while allowing customers to add more
advanced functionalities as needed.

For instance, with the new Express versions, IBM hasn’t bundled in the sophisticated virtualization and storage
area networking capabilities inherent in traditional System i installations, but makes them available as options as needed.

The Express systems do include a built-in workload manager that allows customers to manage multiple applications independently on one system, instead of having to deploy a new server every time they need to add a new application. IBM quoted figures from a 2006 Gartner study showing that the average small business deploys seven servers on site.

That represents significant waste, noted IBM System i product manager Ian Jarman, since typically, a server running one application operates at just 5 percent of capacity.

“The concept for System i is that these applications
can run together on the same server,” he told That
kind of consolidation helps reduce management as well as energy costs.

Jarman said that the system helps SMBs get the most out of their IT

“Do you want your staff installing patches or would you rather
have them deploying the next application that the business needs, or a new
function for your customer-facing Web site?” he said.

And in a departure from its past practice with System i configurations, Big
Blue is also introducing the per-user pricing model familiar to customers of
Microsoft  Windows.

Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT Research, predicted that the
Express versions will be a boon to the integrated software vendors (ISVs)
that develop applications for SMBs, many of which are starved for software
to manage their businesses more effectively.

“It could open some eyes up to applications that don’t exist in the Windows
world,” he told

According to King, competition from the likes of HP  and Dell  has put IBM under pressure to “freshen up System i and make it appealing to new customers and also add
options that will appeal to existing customers.”

He said that IBM has responded smartly by simplifying the licensing
structure and decreasing costs, “especially for small businesses that are
very sensitive to pricing issues.”

The System i 515 Express, designed for companies with fewer than 40 employees, starts at $7,995 and includes 5 user licenses. Additional user licenses cost $1,250 per five users.

The 525 Express, for customers with over 30 employees, is priced at $34,900. Both versions are expected to be
available later this month.

News Around the Web