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IBM i Solution Editions are right on the money, right out of the box

In today’s computing environment, IBM clients want to lower the cost, risk and complexity of deploying core business applications. With IBM i Solution Editions, they’re finding the right product at the right price, and it works right out of the box.

IBM introduced a family of IBM i Solution Edition offerings based on the new POWER7* processor-based systems in partnership with industry-leading ISVs. The technology provides powerful solutions for mid-sized clients that yield results at a lower cost. Clients have been snapping up the new IBM i Solution Editions since they were introduced 10 months ago. “The Solution Editions program was designed to reduce the cost, complexity and implementation time for ERP applications,” says Guy Paradise, worldwide IBM i marketing manager. “Many times IBM hears from clients, ‘I don’t have the money or the time for a long drawn-out ERP implementation process.’ It’s a barrier. If you can speed the implementation time, reduce the skills required and the complexity, there’s real value for the client.” Paradise says the value doesn’t come just from IBM, but also from the partnership, optimization and joint development between IBM and leading ISVs. And the acquisition savings can be considerable: Clients can save up to 35 percent on new Power Systems* servers running IBM i, depending on their configuration, Paradise says.

Reengineered and Reenergized

The Solution Editions concept has existed for years, but the program was reenergized with POWER7 processor-based systems and IBM’s strong partnership with the participating ISVs. IBM i Solution Editions combine product discounts from IBM, implementation services, rapid installation and the continued total integration clients have come to expect with IBM i. “Solution Editions address worries about the effort required and the complexity of deploying new solutions that may prevent clients from upgrading,” Paradise says.

When IBM i Solution Editions for POWER7 were rolled out in August 2010, IBM offered the Power* 720 Express with six to eight cores and the Power 740 Express with up to 16 cores. In November 2010, IBM included the Power 720 Express with four cores in the program. The Power 720 Express four-core system is the entry Power Systems offering, ideal for small businesses and clients who don’t require the extra scalability and performance the larger systems provided. In some regions, such as Italy, the four-core Power 720 Solution Edition is the offering that best meets market demand. “Adding the four-core Solution Edition really opened up the program to an even larger segment and we’re seeing very strong results with the four-core offering,” Paradise says.

Along with leading-edge technology, Solution Editions also include services to help with implementation. All offerings have a services voucher, entitling a client to use IBM Lab Services or IBM business-partner services for implementation help. As part of this program, and supporting the renewed partnership with ISVs, IBM Lab Services has implemented a new series of services targeted specifically at helping clients implement ERP solutions faster and with lower cost.

“When IBM i clients purchase a Solution Edition, they’re benefitting from ... a partnership to optimize, innovate and invest in that solution.” —Guy Paradise, worldwide IBM i marketing manager

Strong Investment

ISV partnership and investment in the Solution Editions has been strong. With more than 100 ISVs participating, and more added every week, IBM i clients have been encouraged by this resurgence in investment by both IBM and IBM i ISVs.

Clients can also rest assured that the ISV software has been optimized for POWER7 processor-based systems and IBM i. “If an ISV is in the program, not only does the ISV support the latest releases, but the applications are optimized for them,” Paradise says.

ISVs often include their own incentives. These vary and might include reduced cost of acquisition or special prices on renewing software-maintenance agreements.

Qualification to purchase an IBM i Solution Edition hinges on clients spending a certain amount on ISV solutions, depending on the system. For a Power 720 Express four-core package, the threshold is $6,500, rising to $60,000 for the Power 740 Express. That can go toward software licenses, implementation services, maintenance agreements or other services. The requirement aims to ensure that clients are investing in their core business applications while taking advantage of the new hardware and software from IBM.

A client can be confident that a Solution Editions purchase can help lower the risk when deploying core business solutions. The foundation continues to be total integration with IBM i, integrating the hardware, firmware, operating systems, database, security and storage management, all pretested on POWER7 technology. This pretesting eliminates much of the risk and complexity clients typically face when deploying new solutions.

“Solution Editions also signify a deep partnership between IBM and the ISV,” Paradise says. “When IBM i clients purchase a Solution Edition, they’re benefitting from a solution that is the result of a partnership to optimize, innovate and invest in that solution.”

“For the first time, we are less expensive than commodity Intel solutions.” —Susan Hed, vice president, IBM’s Oracle Alliance

The Power of Partnership

The client is the primary focus of IBM’s partnership with its ISVs. “Solution Editions offerings send a strong message to clients about partnership,” Paradise says. “Clients see the investment from both IBM and the ISVs.” A true partnership between IBM and ISVs is particularly important when clients use systems for core business processing.

The introduction of new POWER7 systems was the catalyst for IBM to reenergize the Solution Editions program. ISVs were excited to leverage and optimize for the new systems. “Solution Editions reignited IBM’s partnership with many ISVs, including Oracle JD Edwards. Oracle JD Edwards recently announced the delivery of its EnterpriseOne Express Installation for IBM i, which offers exceptional value,” Paradise says. “ISVs have refocused their efforts to reach the IBM i client base. In another example, Infor has partnered with us on Solution Editions with strong offers and focused demand generation.”

As part of the partnership, IBM’s development lab works closely with the top ISVs as it’s been doing for more than 10 years. That’s rare in the industry as “you’re placing a development expense on the table with your top ISV partners,” says Jim Anderson, program director, IBM i development. “Many of these ISV applications—like Infor, Oracle JD Edwards World and Lawson—have existed for a long time, while some of the newer applications—such as SAP or Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne—are more modern with C++, multithreading and Java*. All show significant benefit from POWER7 and IBM i 7.1.”

Collaborating with the ISVs has also brought other benefits to IBM developers. “Sometimes you need to look at how people use your product rather than how you build your product,” Anderson says. In working with the ISVs, “you get a view that’s very different.”

The timing of Solution Editions for POWER7 was also fortuitous for a POWER7 and IBM i 7.1 optimization project that IBM and the ISVs had been working on. “We were able to leverage a lot of that work for Solution Editions,” says Mike Breitbach, senior software engineer, IBM i development.

Working closely with the ISVs enables those companies to evaluate and test their code to the latest IBM hardware and software technology. “We ship the code well ahead of general availability so the ISVs have a chance to test it and provide their support statement. For the big ISVs, we usually get their statement of support within a month of general availability,” Breitbach says. “That’s a positive statement.”

Commitment to the Client

From the top ISVs to the more regional ones, all of the companies are committed to providing the best applications possible with distinctive client benefits.

The IBM i Solution Editions program is partnering with large global ISVs and industry-leading ISVs focused regionally. VAI, Health Management Systems and Solarsoft, for example, serve the North American market. “These ISVs demonstrate leadership in particular industries and markets, and they’ve had great success in North America in their industry segments,” Anderson says.

Two of the global ISVs—Infor and Oracle JD Edwards—have invested jointly with IBM. “We’ve worked with Infor, leveraging last year’s Solution Editions offering, adding their core software applications based on the distribution industry to create a joint software bundle. This was launched at the end of March,” Anderson says. A couple of months ago, Infor brought out a similar software bundle for the manufacturing industry.

The new JD Edwards Enterprise-One Express Installation for IBM i also exemplifies commitment to the client. “Developed by Oracle and available from the Oracle E-Delivery website, the Express Installation on IBM i represents an impressive investment from JD Edwards to improve client time-to-value on the very popular IBM i platform,” says Boyd Fenton, manager of the IBM Oracle International Competency Center. “The Express Installation process takes installation time from weeks to days, saving $10,000 to $20,000. It provides clients with a preconfigured and fully tested EnterpriseOne system with the most recent service updates and fixes already applied. People are amazed when we describe it because it’s almost too good to be true. But it is true.”

The Express Installation announcement coupled with the IBM i Solution Edition for JD Edwards is a very compelling combination for new and existing JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and World clients. “For the first time, we are less expensive than commodity Intel* solutions on a cost-of-acquisition basis—in some situations, by up to 29 percent,” says Susan Hed, vice president of IBM’s Oracle Alliance. “Clients are telling us they can confidently remain on a platform technology they have always trusted to run their JD Edwards applications,” she continues. “They see IBM and JD Edwards working well together for their benefit and the new POWER7 Solution Edition pricing and packaging is very compelling.”

Building on the Excitement

The sales numbers have been astonishing with the Power 720 Express four-core models essentially selling out in the fourth quarter. “We can confidently say that the momentum from fourth quarter 2010 is carrying over into first quarter 2011,” Paradise says. “We’re seeing not just install base clients moving to Solution Editions, but we’re also picking up new clients in partnership with the ISVs.”

Some of the attraction comes from the price and some from the fact that clients don’t have to migrate to different software or hardware. With everything contained, the Solution Edition gets in right on the money. “Low total cost of acquisition, low total cost of ownership and most rapid return on business value—those are the three things that really jump out when talking about Solution Editions,” Hed says.