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Don’t Forget About The Co-Lo Alternative To Cloud

June 21, 2021

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Cloud is a consumption model, not a panacea. And for a lot of customers, moving some – or even all of their applications – to the cloud is something to consider or even possibly the right move. But for many customers who are committed to their applications and therefore to their IBM i platform, the best and lowest cost way to get infrastructure to support those applications is still to put machinery on premises or to have it installed in a co-location facility.

The numbers bear this out, and as we pointed out before way back in June 2018 – before IBM launched its Power Systems Virtual Server offering on the IBM Cloud and before Skytap hooked up with Microsoft to get its application management software atop Power Systems instances running on the Azure public cloud – you have to look at all of the angles to make a technical and financial decision about where to run applications. From our side, where UCG Technologies offers co-location services as well as the ability to acquire machinery to put there, the math has not changed a whole lot because, frankly, the IBM Power Systems lineup has not changed. Things cost what they do, and they will not change for the vast majority of IBM i shops until Power10 systems – what IBM calls scale-out machines but what you and I would call entry servers – are available with one or two sockets and a modest number of Power10 cores.

The cloud story has solidified a bit with IBM’s Power Systems Virtual Server offering, however. And we don’t mean to pick on IBM, but we think if customers are thinking of moving to the cloud, they are definitely going to take a very hard look at Big Blue’s offering at least alongside of – if not ahead of – Microsoft’s offering on Azure and whatever Google may or may not actually be doing. (Google seems less committed to the whole idea, to be honest.) So let’s take a look at the Power Systems Virtual Server, which debuted in February 2019.

Right off the bat, IBM is basing its entry infrastructure on the Power S922 machine, and that does not have an IBM i P05 software tier. That means Big Blue can’t really serve a big portion of its own customer base. Many people had expected for IBM to make a P05 tier available, but it has not after being in the field for more than two years. We have to believe that this is intentional, but the intent is unclear. We can infer – without even using machine learning, but this old-fashioned technology called thinking – that IBM is trying to go after specific customers who have sizable IBM i and AIX workloads with its virtual slices on the IBM Cloud. It is trying to find the bigger deals first.

IBM’s pricing for the Power Systems Virtual Server is published at this link, and we know that our on premises and co-location offerings are not exactly the same as those from IBM. For instance, we offer dedicated systems so there is no need to worry about noisy neighbor issues with the server virtualization hypervisor on our machines, and that is always a worry on the public cloud. We offer up to 40 hours of migration services in our bundle as well as up to 40 hours of operating system and system software PTF updates each year in addition to the co-lo facility, rack, redundant power plus generator backup, and redundant Internet pipes into the machines. Those who opt for the VAULT400 Cloud Backup and DRaaS service also get full disaster recovery test and planning services, disaster recovery replication to a second location, and have an optional virtual tape library (VTL) for IBM BRMS users.

Anyway, here’s IBM’s pricing:

IBM pricing table

Once again, IBM is not offering a P05 instance with the Power Systems Virtual Server, which means customers using it will either have to be at the P10 or P30 software tier or have to upgrade their application software if they use third party code when and if they move to the IBM Cloud. This is the cost of bare-bones capacity and customers have to patch the operating systems and systems software themselves as far as we know and they have no services from IBM to help them move to the cloud.

Now, here is how UCG Technologies stacks up in similar Power Systems performance bands but with a different stack of services for both on machines installed on premises – in your site – or at our co-location facilities – at our sites. Take a look:

UCG Technologies Table

The difference between a P05 machine and a P10 machine is largely due to the difference in the cost of the systems software, in this case the IBM i operating system. We assume that companies will migrate over their licensed program products to the machine they acquire from us, whether it is on premises or co-lo. As you can see, we are absolutely competitive with IBM on P10 machines and we offer P05 machines that Big Blue doesn’t. And as a UCG Technologies customer, we will take care of you in a way that the big public clouds cannot do at a personal level.

It’s something to think about, isn’t it?

Jim Kandrac is founder and president of UCG Technologies.

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