In a previous blog entry, I discussed the pros and cons of IBM Z Solution Consumption License Charges (SCLC): A Viable R4HA Alternative. Recently on 14 May 2019 IBM announced Tailored Fit Pricing for IBM Z, introducing two comprehensive alternatives to the Rolling 4 Hour Average (R4HA) based pricing model, for both new and existing workloads, with a General Availability (GA) date of 21 June 2019.
To digress a little, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, June 21 is considered as the Summer Solstice, where the date might vary, one day before or after, namely June 20-22. You can then further complicate things with confusing Midsummer’s Day with the Summer Solstice and Astronomical versus Meteorological seasons, but whatever, it’s a significant timeframe, with many traditions throughout Europe. Once again, Midsummer’s Day can be any date between June 19 and June 24. Having considered my previous review of SCLC and now the Tailored Fit Pricing announcement, I was reminded of a quotation from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, “so quick bright things come to confusion”…
The primary driver for Tailored Fit Pricing for IBM Z is to help mitigate unpredictable costs whilst continuing to deliver optimal business outcomes in the world of Digital Transformation & Hybrid Cloud. Depending on the type of workload activity in your organisation, a tailored pricing model may be far more competitive when compared to pay-as-you-go schemes that have been typical on many x86 based cloud implementations. Combining technology with cost competitive commercial models delivered through Tailored Fit Pricing strongly challenges the mindset that IT growth must be done on a public cloud in order to make economic sense. Put another way, this is the IBM Marketing stance to compete with the ever-growing presence of the major 3 Public Cloud providers, namely Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, totalling ~60% of Public Cloud customer spend.
In essence a significant portion of The Tailored Fit Pricing for IBM Z announcement is a brand renaming activity, where the Container Pricing for IBM Z name changes to Tailored Fit Pricing for IBM Z. The IBM Application Development and Test Solution and the IBM New Application Solution that were previously introduced under the Container Pricing for IBM Z name, are now offered under the Tailored Fit Pricing for IBM Z name. Tailored Fit Pricing for IBM Z pricing introduces two new pricing solutions for IBM Z software running on the z/OS platform. The Enterprise Consumption and Enterprise Capacity Solutions are both tailored to your environment and offer flexible deployment options:
- Enterprise Consumption Solution: a tailored usage-based pricing model where compute power is measured on a per MSU basis. MSU consumption is aggregated hourly, providing a measurement system better aligned with actual system utilization, when compared with R4HA. Software charges are based on the total annual MSU usage, assisting users with seasonal workload pattern variations. A total MSU used charging mechanism is designed to remove MSU capping, optimizing SLA and response time metrics accordingly.
- Enterprise Capacity Solution: a tailored full-capacity licensing model, offering the maximum level of cost predictability. Charges are based on the overall size of the physical hardware environment. Charges are calculated based on the estimated mix of workloads running, while providing the flexibility to vary actual usage across workloads. Charges include increased capacity for development and test environments and reduced pricing for all types of workload growth. An overall size charging mechanism is designed to remove MSU capping, optimizing SLA and response time metrics accordingly.
The high-level benefits associated with the Enterprise Consumption and Enterprise Capacity solutions can be summarized as:
- Licensing models that eradicate cost control capping activities, enabling clients to fully exploit the CPU capacity installed
- Increased CPU capacity for Development and Test (DevTest) environments, enabling clients to dramatically increase DevTest activities, without cost consideration
- Optimized and potential lower pricing for all types of workload growth, without requiring additional IBM approvals, or additional tagging and tracking
Enterprise Solution License Charges (ESLC) are a new type of Monthly License Charge (MLC) pricing methodology for Enterprise Solutions, tailored for each individual and specific client environment and related requirements. It was forever thus, whatever the pricing mechanism, the ubiquitous z/OS, CICS, Db2, MQ, IMS, WAS software products are the major considerations for MLC pricing mechanisms. The Key prerequisites for Tailored Fit Pricing for IBM Z are IBM z14 Models M01-M05 or z14 Model ZR1, running the z/OS 2.2 and higher Operating System.
For new Mission Critical workloads and existing or new Development and Test (DevTest) workloads, Tailored Fit Pricing for IBM Z is clearly a great fit. The restriction of z14 hardware is a little disappointing, where Solution Consumption License Charges (SCLC) included support for the z13 and z13s server. I’m guessing that IBM are relying upon a significant z14 field upgrade programme in the next few years, largely based upon the Pervasive Encryption (PE) functionality. However, for those customers that have run the IBM Z platform for decades and might have invested in cost optimization activities, including but not limited to capping, the jump to these new Enterprise Solution License Charges (ESLC) might take a while…
We could review this isolated announcement to the nth degree, but I’m not sure how productive that might be. For sure, there is always devil in the detail, but sometimes we need to consider the big picture…
As a baby boomer myself, I see my role as passing on my knowledge to the next generations, although still wanting and striving to learn each and every day. At this time of year, where the weather is better and roads drier, I drive my classic car a lot more and I enjoy the ability to tune the engine with my ears, hands, eyes and a strobe; getting my hands dirty! I wonder whether the future of the IBM Z platform ecosystem is somewhat analogous to that of the combustion engine. Several decades ago, electronics and Engine Management Systems became common place for combustion engines and now the ubiquitous laptop is plugged into the engine bay, to retrieve codes to diagnose and in theory repair faults. For the consumer, arguably a good thing from a vehicle reliability viewpoint, but from a mechanical engineer viewpoint, have these folks become deskilled? If you truly want your modern vehicle fixed, you will probably need a baby boomer to do this, one that doesn’t rely on a laptop, but their experience. Although a sweeping generalisation, as there are always exceptions to any rule, the same applies to the IBM Z environment, where it was forever thus, compute power (MSU/MIPS) optimization relies upon a tune, tune, tune approach.
Whether R4HA or Full Capacity based, software cost charges will only be truly optimized if the system and ultimately application code is tuned. A possible potential downside of not paying close attention to MSU usage, especially when considering these Enterprise Solution License Charges, is a potential isolated activity to “fix” IBM Z software costs forevermore, based upon a high MSU baseline. Just as the combustion engine management systems simplify fault or diagnostic data collection, they don’t necessarily highlight that the vehicle owner left their cargo carrier on the vehicle roof, harming fuel efficiency. A crude analogy for sure, but experience counts for a lot. We have all probably encountered the Old Engineer & The Hammer story before and ultimately it’s incumbent upon us all, to safeguard that we don’t enable a rapid “death of expertise”. Once the skills are lost, they’re lost. Whether iStrobe from Compuware, TurboTune from Critical Path Software Inc. or the myriad of other System Monitor options, engage the experienced engineer and safeguard MSU optimization. At this point, deploy the latest IBM Z pricing mechanism, namely Tailored Fit Pricing for IBM Z, and you will have truly optimized software costs…