The best place to put your e-business workload

Jim Mason

From my point of view, there are two options for running your e-business workloads in an average iSeries shop: upgrade your existing iSeries server or buy a new front-end server. If you buy a new server, you have three choices: an i5 server, a Windows server or a Linux server. While some iSeries shops are comfortable with a Windows server running their e-business applications, many aren't.

Personally, I think Linux is the best option for many reasons. I've been running a Red Hat server without fail for more than two years on the Internet. Now IBM's new OpenPower Linux Servers give you the same hardware as an i5 with Linux. A very powerful IBM Linux e-business server using the SAME Power5 hardware as an i5 server costs less than $30,000 total!

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On the other hand, Linux is totally foreign technology to most iSeries shops, so only a few will consider this option. If you think Linux is the right answer, consider outsourcing the setup. It's an easy, low-cost option.

Enterprise upgrade or new Standard edition server?
After looking at Windows and Linux, most smaller shops will probably fall back to one of the other two choices: upgrade the existing iSeries or buy a new i5. Looking at the two choices, which is best for your situation? For most small businesses, IBM's pitch on server consolidation doesn't make a lot of sense for e-business workloads. Why? IBM's "strange" pricing policies. If you upgrade an existing iSeries, by default your business partner will sell you an Enterprise upgrade. If you buy a new i5 server, you have a choice of either the Standard edition or Enterprise edition. What's the difference between the two editions? Let's look at an example I did for a customer.








Upgrade iSeries 810 to i5 550 Enterprise edition

Net processing power = 3300 CPW



Unlimited OLTP (5250) included

1 integrated X card server



Software included:

OS/400, TCP, DB2, HTTP, Java, Java toolkit, iSeries Navigator

WebSphere Application Server

WebSphere Portal Express Plus

(40 user Intranet licenses ONLY)

Lotus Sametime (IM) and Workplace

DB2 Query Manager

DB2 Symmetric multiprocessing

DB2 extenders

DB2 UDB Workgroup for Linux

BRMS tools

Performance tools

HA Switchable resources

Tivoli Monitoring and Storage Manager



Service coupons



Total price for Enterprise upgrade to i550









Buy a new i5 550 Standard edition server
(KEEP old iSeries 810 server as development and green screen box)

Net processing power = 4770 CPW



Buy WDSC Advanced and use WebFaced 5250 applications on new i5 Standard edition server



Software included:

OS/400, TCP, DB2, HTTP, Java, Java toolkit, iSeries Navigator,

WebSphere Express



BRMS backup software



Total price for Standard i550 server with 2 processors activated






Savings buying a new i5 Standard edition server






There you have it. Buy a new i5 Standard edition server instead of an Enterprise upgrade -- and you save more than $100,000 up front!

The sample configurations here may not fit your specific needs. You should work with your business partner to define valid configurations for your specific situation. However, the relative value differences between Enterprise and Standard editions will probably be similar to the example above.

What's the impact for two separate servers?
The existing 810 server can then be used for any users still needing green screen access and as a development server, since the existing 810 server is an Enterprise edition with WebSphere Development Studio and unlimited 5250 capacity. The corporate database on the i5 can be accessed via DDM. Applications are developed and tested on the 810 and moved into production on the i5.

The new i5 550 server gets the corporate database on DB2/400, runs WebFaced 5250 applications and other Web applications on WebSphere Express in the OS/400 processor. The second processor runs Linux with DB2 UDB (a great system for Business Intelligence and data marts). It runs a variety of open-source software: Apache HTTP server, Apache Tomcat, open-source Web access tools and more.

Using a Standard edition server effectively means finding alternate ways to do work that uses green-screen functions now. The basic strategy is to avoid interactive CPW workloads (5250 OLTP or 'green-screen' work). This goes beyond the scope of just WebFacing applications but also using the alternate software to do all work for users, administrators and developers on the system.

For end users this means:

  • Reviewing 5250 work that can be avoided through better configuration, management and automation
  • Using alternative software such as WebFaced applications with system screen support
  • Using alternate report tools to traditional 5250 tools, such as Query/400 -- there are a number that cost about the same price or less

For system administration this means:

  • Reviewing administration work that can be avoided through better configuration, management and automation
  • Using alternative tools such as iSeries Navigator for most administration tasks
  • Using the single console for OS/400 and QShell for advanced administration

For developers this means:

  • Reviewing development work that can be avoided or reduced through better tools and automation
  • Using alternative tools such as WDSC

If you need help reviewing these options, contact an iSeries e-business services provider.


About the author: Jim Mason is Director of Technical Services at ebt-now, an iSeries e-business services provider specializing in WebFacing, WebSphere, Web applications and Domino. You can reach Jim at 508-888-0344 or jemason@ebt-now.com.

This was first published in November 2004

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