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IBM expands System i Capacity Backup Editions for SMBs

IBM has announced more Capacity Backup Editions to help midsized companies with disaster recovery and high availability.

IBM Corp. has announced more System i Capacity BackUp (CBU) Editions to target small and midsized businesses that seek disaster recovery and high availability.

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The new editions, like the ones announced in July, are meant to help companies run backup systems in case their primary iSeries box fails or undergoes testing. The idea is that you buy a primary system, and then you buy a CBU edition that has i5/OS on it and minimal processing activated. When a disaster strikes or you need to take the primary system offline, the CBU can ramp up its dormant processors and take over. Then, when the primary system is ready to be the primary system again, the CBU reverts back to its semidormant state.

In July, Big Blue announced the backup servers for the System i570 two- to 16-way machine and the System i595 four- to 32-way machine. Now customers can buy as small as a System i550 one- to four-way backup server. There are now also smaller versions of the i570 and i595 backups.

The new i570 and i595 CBU editions are available now, while the i550 backup will be available later this month. Prices start at $59,000 for the i550 standard backup edition and range up to $680,000 for the highest end i595 backup.

Danny Lujan, vice president of enterprise technology at Pharmavite LLC, a vitamin manufacturer in Mission Hills, Calif., said his company has five iSeries boxes, consolidated down from nine when he started at the job about four years ago. Its main box, an i570, runs the company's J.D. Edwards applications, while older AS400 s20 and 720 models are there for development and legacy applications, respectively.

Meanwhile, Pharmavite has two more iSeries boxes, an i570 and i530, which are out of state at its disaster recovery site. The company also runs about 80 System x servers.

"Our goal here is to consolidate our AS400 iSeries," Lujan said. "Our goal here is to consolidate and run everything on one box, because that makes it simpler for us to manage. It lowers total cost of ownership [TCO] and allows us to simplify the disaster recovery process."

Lujan said as that consolidation stretches on, he'll be looking at the possibility of using a CBU edition at the disaster recovery site to save money. The company hopes to get down to two System i boxes by the end of next year: one primary and one backup.

"When you go into disaster recovery or high-availability mode, you can turn on those processors," he said. "That would be a big cost savings."

The data center runs Mimix mirroring software from Lakeview Technology Inc., and Lujan is concerned about making sure the CBU edition can handle the replication from the primary system. He said he wouldn't want to underestimate the number of processors he would need and then not be able to handle the mirroring process. In that respect, he questioned how valuable the feature of having dormant processors on the CBU edition would be if he needed a lot of them to run Mimix.

Big Blue announced that customers can save money by temporarily transferring their i5/OS licenses from their primary system to the CBU edition when doing testing, or when the primary system is down. With licenses doled out per processor costing as much as $59,000 each, it could add up.

Lujan wondered if the processor flexibility in the CBU edition would allow him to save money on third-party software licenses, as well as i5/OS licenses.

Maria A. DeGiglio, principal analyst for Maria A. DeGiglio & Associates, said the IBM announcement signifies a concession to smaller businesses because previously "they hadn't been so flexible before with regard to the CBU."

She also said that IBM could continue the momentum by putting together packages, with or without business partners, to make buying the CBU even more attractive.

"It presents IBM and their partners with the opportunity to do more bundling," she said. "That could be a future direction. I could see where that could be an offering for midsized companies."

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Mark Fontecchio, News Writer

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