Integrated systems stand firm amid server commoditization

CEOs and other C-level executives do not appreciate the long-term costs of IT infrastructure, WA-based frozen food producer Kailis and France Foods' IT manager John Belton said this week.

Referring to a plethora of cheap x86-based servers available on today's market, Belton said end users must be wary of the way in which a low barrier to entry might translate into higher support and maintenance costs.

"Clustered servers are becoming more affordable, but looking at the cost of administration and the number of components if you could do it all on the iSeries there are fewer points of failure and a much easier continuity path," he said.

"Upfront the iSeries seems expensive, but over three years the TCO is lower. There is an excellent roadmap which can deliver more bang for the dollar with fewer people."

Belton also runs more than 12 Windows boxes for Access and SQLServer applications. Consolidation of these onto the iSeries is also an option for him. Belton has reached a crossroads with the next generation of the company's ERP software.

"We've been using the iSeries for 10 years to run our PRMS manufacturing software. It's an RPG-based ERP system supporting 110 users," Belton said, adding the next generation may run on native RPG, be Java-based, or run on Oracle.

"We definitely need a new box and if our ERP software is RPG-based then we will go with the iSeries, if it's Oracle-based we will go with another system, [but] to get the same availability [from Intel systems] as the iSeries we would need redundant blades."

Attending this year's iSeries innovation conference in Perth, Belton said while the iSeries has been reliable, it's hard to get that message through to senior management.

He said perceptions, that the iSeries is a dead technology, work against it.

IBM's eServer iSeries general manager, Mark Shearer, said that 10 years ago 70 percent of IT budgets were spent on infrastructure and 30 percent on labour. Today that ratio has reversed.

"By far the largest element of the IT budget is spent on management of infrastructure [and] the iSeries has so many new capabilities which allow significant cost reduction," Shearer said, adding that savings of between 30 to 50 percent have been achieved over other platforms.

* Rodney Gedda travelled to the conference as a guest of IBM

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