If you’re like me, the recent IBM financial numbers had you wondering. Big Blue gave figures for the “converged System p” servers, which was up 29 percent, and “System i” servers, down 47 percent. In a word, ouch.
But it’s mainly ouch because of the way it makes System i look, and not necessarily because of how the platform actually performed. Let’s take a look at how it all breaks down, according to Ross Mauri, IBM’s general manager of Power Systems.
The “converged System p” line includes all the Power6-based servers that can run AIX and IBM i. When asked why the company doesn’t break that up into subsegments that includes i, Mauri said that they “did do that, internally, but we’re not giving out that information externally. We try to look at what the lead operating system is (for the user) during the purchase, but it’s not something that we can definitively explain.”
Further, the “converged System p” numbers from this quarter — which include the newer System i machines — are compared to the previous year’s System p only numbers. So it makes System p performance look better than reality, although by how much we’re not sure.
Meanwhile, the System i falling-off-the-cliff numbers only include what Mauri called “legacy” System i servers — that is, pre-Power6. Since IBM isn’t actively selling those machines as strongly as the new boxes, and because that number compares to the entire System i line from the year before, the precipitous drop-off isn’t as precipitous as it appears at first.
Mauri would only add that “System p Unix had an outstanding quarter and i had an OK quarter.”
Why IBM decided to report the Power Systems revenue as “converged System p” is a question Mauri couldn’t answer, but it likely has to do with investor expectations. They need points to compare, and a new division called Power Systems probably doesn’t do it for them. But in future years, look for IBM to start reporting numbers under Power Systems, instead of “converged System p.”