Small- to medium-sized enterprises and businesses (SMEs/SMBs) face some unique challenges when it comes to accessing and adopting new technologies and IT services. Not surprisingly, tech vendors tend to initially target deep pocketed large enterprises with latest/greatest solutions and services, with more modestly sized and priced offerings suitable for smaller organizations coming months afterward. That can be painful for SMEs that are sensitive to technological and competitive issues in specific markets, regions and industries.
These points are worth considering related to IBM’s new System Subscription solutions for its IBM i customers, and how those businesses are likely to benefit from these offerings.
The unique challenges of small- to medium-sized organizations
It’s worth noting that, like solutions for larger enterprises, those for SMEs are anything but one-size-fits-all. That is especially true for smaller organizations that are expected to provide customers services with enterprise class reliability, availability and security (RAS). Those include businesses ranging from regional banks and financial services to healthcare organizations to sizable hotels, resorts to manufacturers and retailers.
These SMEs are customers that IBM has deep experience in serving. In 1988, the company introduced the AS/400 system, a successor to its midrange System/36 and System/38 solutions. The platform became immensely popular among SMEs, in large part due to RAS functionality and flexibility that mirrored IBM’s largest enterprise systems. In fact, many in the industry referred to the AS/400 as the “midrange mainframe.”
Like other business computing platforms, the AS/400 evolved significantly over time. In IBM’s 1999 eServer initiative, the line was rebranded as the iSeries, then System i and, today is called IBM i. In 1991, the company updated the platform with 64-bit PowerPC-derived CPUs (IBM RS64). Those CPUs were replaced with IBM POWER4 processors in 2001, followed by POWER5, POWER6 and other Power processors in later upgrades. In 2008, IBM i became part of the IBM Power line where it remains today.
These steady transformational improvements helped maintain the popularity and market for IBM’s midrange solutions. But the same SMEs that have relied on IBM i offerings for years are also looking for dynamic business solutions that can help them continue to grow competitively and offer both new and traditional services that will keep customers satisfied. In other words, they need modern computing solutions that are flexibly powerful, reliable and affordable.
The new IBM i System Subscription
A blog authored by Dylan Boday, IBM’s VP of Product Management, Hybrid Cloud, Systems and AI announced the availability of the new IBM i System Subscription, a solution based on the Power S1014, a Power10-based server that the company says delivers 57% more performance per core compared to the previous generation Power S914.
Incorporating Power S1014 systems, IBM i software and services to support and assist operations in clients’ IBM i environments, the IBM i System Subscription solution is billed on an annual basis. Clients can get their entire IT solution as-a-service for less than $55 per user per month and can choose three to five year initial subscription terms with renewal options of one or more years. Payment terms and prices do not change over the duration of the subscription.
According to IBM, the new subscription service is designed to simplify budgetary planning for small and midsize IBM i customers. The service enables clients to keep business-critical workloads on-premises while enjoying cloud-like economics and the assistance of expert support personnel. Plus, when new technologies and features become available, clients can upgrade to the latest and greatest offerings during their next renewal.
What are the takeaways from the new IBM i System Subscription? First and foremost, the offering is designed to enable customers to easily afford, access and use IBM’s latest Power10-based IBM i solutions, and keep business critical apps on premises. Those systems can also be upgraded as new and next-generation Power servers become available, allowing businesses to capture benefits provided by improved power and performance.
Finally, engaging IBM support personnel should ease and simplify system maintenance and management. For SMEs, this last point is every bit as vital as the access to affordable new generation Power10-based servers. Finding and hiring qualified IT personnel is particularly difficult for SMEs, especially those based far away from high tech hot spots. Other challenges relate to finding younger IT staff to replace administrators and managers who are retiring.
For decades, IBM i solutions have proved that SMEs can affordably experience and capture the benefits of enterprise-class computing. The new IBM i System Subscription offerings show that the company is ensuring that customers will continue to enjoy those benefits for years to come.
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