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How the right server can save real $$ on application licensing [IBM]

Servers, Storage and Networking | Posted on October 12, 2010

Are application memory hogs eating up server space and causing licensing costs to go through the roof? If you answered “hell ya!” to that question you aren’t alone.

Until recently, the problem organizations have traditionally run into when virtualizing their data center environment has been the inability to scale server memory high enough to allow high density of virtual machines per server.

Virtualization and database applications are memory hogs. Typically, the user runs out of memory way before running out of processor power, especially with today’s extremely powerful Intel processors. And, to make matters worse, in the past the only way to scale memory to the max has been to fully populate the processor sockets. This has led to low virtual machine density and less than optimal desktop virtualization capability because of memory scalability limitations. It also means extremely high licensing costs for database applications since those costs are based on either processor count or socket count.

IBM, with the announcement of eX5 technology has been able to de-couple the processor/memory link allowing the ability to scale memory massively without having to increase processor count. This leads to a huge cost savings in terms of software licensing.

Let’s take a look at an Oracle example:
Oracle licenses its software by processor socket count, whether those sockets are populated with processors or not. Oracle charges a per socket license fee of $28,000. So, for a server with four sockets you would incur a cost of $112,000. IBM’s x3690, a two-way server that has 32DIMM sockets, can scale up to 256GB using 8GB DIMMs. By comparison, Dell can only scale to 256GB by having four processors installed. Therefore, the IBM server is saving you $56,000 and able to scale to the same amount of memory.

Now, let’s take a look at a virtualization example:
With the greater memory scalability, customers can now realistically virtualize 30 or more servers onto a single x3690 rather than the 20 or so servers that could be virtualized previously. This means you can use 33% less servers and incur lower licensing costs, lower power and cooling costs and lower administrative costs.

Along with the eX5 announcement in late March, IBM also announced the introduction of the MAX5 memory drawer. This memory drawer attaches to the x3690 and gives it an additional 32 DIMM sockets for a total of 64. These extra DIMM sockets can be used in two different ways by either allowing greater memory scalability or allowing the use of smaller, cheaper DIMMs to achieve the same amount of memory.

In summary, since software licensing costs make up the majority portion of a server purchase, don’t base your buying decision on the price of the server itself. Base it instead on how much that server will be saving you in licensing.

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