Questions to ask:
- Is there such a thing as a ‘good deal’ in the IT world?
- Do IT decision-makers leave their ‘consumer’ hats at home when they evaluate systems?
Let’s briefly look at answering these fundamentally simple, but necessary questions...
Consider the following scenario that would, in most cases, depress us as consumers. It’s a situation that could change buying behavior. You purchase an automobile at a specific price, and then, a week later, discover that same car model went on sale. Why? Because Consumer Reports stated that, through years of use, the overall costs to drive that vehicle proved painfully high. Worse yet, imagine you also find out from Consumer Reports that if you’d bought the more expensive car--the one you really wanted--it would have proven more cost effective to drive in the long run. Buyer’s remorse would set in faster than new car depreciation…….
So, for the next seven minutes, please put on your consumer hat, even if it sits on top of the one you wear when making systems purchase decisions. Keep in mind that value is often relative and can be difficult to determine.
Everyone makes “claims” in order to sell systems. Some draw attention with prices. Total Cost of Acquisition (TCA), for example, is frequently used by x86 and Itanium system vendors because “Marketing 101” teaches that price sells in a commoditized market. Further, this selling behavior is reinforced by “It’s good enough” buyer expectations . At the other end of the spectrum—the high end of the systems market—the sales language is markedly different. The IBM System z™ is best represented in terms of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). But don’t let these terms and the accompanying proof points become stumbling blocks when assessing system economics.
This edition of COMMON SENSE has two objectives. First, we want to reset your grasp of System z TCO. Second, we hope this brief summary prompts you to request a System z deep dive with your IT operations team, finance squad, and those in IBM who will objectively model how our mainframe might be the best economic IT alternative you’ve seen in a long time.
Keep in mind, there is no absolute “good deal” in IT—or anywhere else for that matter. A “good deal” is a relative description of what somebody initially paid for an asset, and the value that asset delivered throughout its lifecycle. In other words, value can sometimes be a matter of perception; and one that reveals itself over time, particularly when evaluating large systems.
This is why we strongly advocate systematically mapping investment value over time. You see, mainframes pay ongoing “dividends.” With our software models, the more you buy, the more your cost-per-transaction ratio usually improves. Mainframes can seamlessly scale workloads without typically adding people resources to manage the increased volume. Mainframes deliver security levels that can protect your most vital organizational assets: customer data, intellectual property, vital statistics, etc.
These capabilities are fundamental to the mainframe design. And, yes, they do boost the acquisition price; but, most frequently (and importantly) they lower the TCO. With a mean time between failure (MTBF) design of greater than three decades, this TCO advantage can prove and re-prove itself year after year after year.
“You get what you pay for …” We have all heard that. And it’s something to remember when your company’s security is at risk. Consequently, you employ proven security tools which could consist of software, whether homegrown or third party. Add that software, by layers, and you might find your assets protected. Your data transmission rates, however, could diminish. Trade-offs!
System z does not, typically, require those tradeoffs. Its design makes security largely intrinsic—embedded in architecture, components, and subsystems. And, service-level-destroying latencies are essentially overcome by our embedded encryption accelerators. Yes, System z might mean a higher price tag on day one, but if you consider the staggering business costs of lost, stolen, or corrupted information, you will again be thinking; “You get what you pay for …” Or consider the potential damage to customer retention if sensitive data is delivered s-l-o-w-l-y due to system drag imposed by multiple software security layers.
There are no absolute right or wrong answers here either; just different perspectives. Why mainframes may appear to cost more than other types of systems is, again, a matter of context and weighing the overall, long-term costs. We would, for example, refer to the cost savings from decades of mainframe virtualization innovation and its direct benefit to utilization rates. Many analysts, users, and technical academicians consider the depth of mainframe virtualization to be THE standard—and where competitive technology usually comes up short. With IBM mainframe virtualization you can, more cost-effectively, match resources to workloads. And that, ultimately, yields better business results.
The business discussion of weighing TCA versus TCO will persist until a worldwide-accepted methodology presents itself. Many in IT consider IBM Scorpion studies to be objective and empirically valid. (These can be comprehensive eight-to-10-week on-site TCO client evals that link business value with IT. Scorpion studies examine current and alternative IT systems, then apply realistic financial analysis). In well over 1,000 Scorpion studies, the mainframe TCO consistently shows significant advantages over alternative system solutions.
To get a better perspective on all of this, you really need to invite a System z specialist to talk with those on your IT staff who have expertise in security, virtualization, mixed workload execution, and reliability/availability/serviceability (RAS). Be sure your IT staff is accompanied by those on your team who monitor costs of ownership. The discussion will prove very telling as long as costs like; purchase price, test, installation, maintenance, upgrades, software licensing, operations, and outages are assessed. If you do objectively look at the bigger picture, we are confident that we, IBM System z, make the best deal in a world where “good deal” is relative.
Net of this COMMON SENSE edition: We want you as a valued client who—because of your System z-enabled business benefits—becomes a powerful advocate. So let’s work together and determine the ultimate value from buying an IBM System z—versus whatever else you are evaluating to help solve the pains of; server sprawl, sub-par security, uneven throughput, and avoidable complexity. And remember your “consumer” hat when you evaluate IT—don’t leave home without it—especially not in today’s economic storm.