System i Blogger

Jan 2 2009   4:21PM GMT

Biased CIOs spend more money and don’t solve problems, they create them

David Vasta David Vasta Profile: David Vasta

What happens when an IBM AS/400, iSeries, System i, i5/OS, POWER System, Lotus Domino/Notes) IT shop doing fine, keeping the company running and is stable, has happy employees, happy users and then out of no where a new CIO or IT Manager is hired who:

  1. Does not understand IBMs offering from both the IBM Systems side and the Lotus side?
  2. Is biased towards another major technology company for no other reason or with out any logic or facts.

Bias is defined as; a particular tendency or inclination, esp. one that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question; prejudice.

Now that we have established what bias is we can move on with the problem.

So there you are a loyal and hard working IBM i Admin, you and the Lotus Admin work hard to keep the company running. The companies main application for work is housed on the IBM i and everyone uses mail that comes out of Lotus Notes, plus Lotus has a feature no other application server has out there, rapid visual development, and there is always the one Lotus Developer, building applications for end users so they they can store information, access different types of data and make use of the Lotus and IBM i applications, and extend them to the company.

Everything is humming along, working well. Cost are in check, and with even more consolidation to the IBM i you could save more money.

The one summers day, or any season for that matter, a new CIO or IT Manager is hired into your company. Right after he says hello to everyone, his next comment is “We are going to replace all that IBM technology with Microsoft (or SUN).”

You as long time IBM i Admin, know this is the beginning of what will end up being a bad place to work for many reasons. First and foremost, you are now being managed by a moron, who does not deal with facts, figures or logic, rather they deal in bias, bigotry, and stupidity.

See your new CIO just made his first mistake, he made a decision in a room filled with people who deal in LOGIC, they don’t see things as GRAY or SHADED, everything to IT people is very black and white, on or off, and YES and NO. Your new CIO just used bias and emotion to make a company impacting decision, and in the end should be regarded as a cautionary moment buy the owners of the company, the Board of Directors and anyone who looks at the books. To make it even worse this CIO starts making these changes while the economy is floundering, costing the company millions to convert their systems to Window based systems, and mail to exchange, then moving all the easy to build and manage Lotus Databases to Microsoft Sharepoint (which is the most expensive part (equipment & resources)) and eventually trying to abandon the IBM i and all IBM products. The company has spend millions of dollars getting to this point only to allow one person to show up and decide to spend millions to take you 180 degrees the opposite direction.

This conversion away from IBMs hardware and software is going to cost millions, cost the company turnover in the IT department and will require the CIO to have some positions filled twice, once on the IBM side and once or maybe twice on the Microsoft/NEW side. So in order to save money the CIO must in fact rip and replace all of the current infrastructure? How is that possible? How does that save you money and how does that one move make your employees fell about working at your once stable, very enjoyable company, in a word scared!

I once saw a company move from Lotus Domino/Notes using one Domino Admin doing some of the admin work about 50% of his day for over 3000 users, then move to Exchange and needed two Exchange Admins, just to manage mail and two new employees to handle the Microsoft AD and other Microsoft related issues, backups are a huge pain with Windows. So they went from having one person to having three people do the same task. Not to mention the fact that Domino is not just mail and in order to replace it they needed to add 4 new server to replace that one server Domino was using.

Sadly this is part IBMs fault and part Microsoft’s fault. CIOs are not in some cases the brightest people around. You may think that sounds harsh, but the fact of the matter is there are plenty of decent, hard working, smart CIOs that started out in DP or MIS some years ago and understand IT needs and how to save money. This post is not for those CIOs.

Rather there are a handful of other, less intelligent, self centered, and just plain dumb CIOs. his post is for you Admins who don’t know how to combat this problem and your CEOs who just entrusted your IT department to a biased spend thrift who likes his Microsoft sport tickets and perks over what he an do to help the company.

You all may know what I am talking about, but I pray you never do. Dealing with the “bad” CIO is painstaking for a logic based person, and as I have been known to be, outspoken and sometimes LOUD IT person. I have been with the CIO I am referring too many times and I assure you, they don’t deal well with the likes of me, or LOGIC. In most cases they ignore you, and in other cases LOUD logic IT people spur on more change because in the end the stupid CIO have very little self-esteem and is doing this to create a legacy so that they keep him with the systems he put in. This is faulty logic on his part.

If I were faced with the “bad” CIO again, I would not even so much as deal with them or their biased logic, I would act as if I wanted to be their best friend, get all the information they would share with me, compile it in a folder, analysis it to no end, then create a presentation that shots holes in every idea they have, and points out all the potential fraud, waste, and abuse of power they are about to be apart of.

I would present it to any “C” level contact I would have listen to me, and make sure I present it in a meeting, they are in attendance. These stupid CIOs are not decent people, and in the end they ruin IT shops and destroy companies.

So if you are reading this and wondering why I am crazy then let me explain using an example. You are a company, you have an average IT department of say 10-12 people, and you as an IT department have 3000 users. You are a transportation company that is the only company in the US that transports badger statues.

You have a “mixed” environment like most IT shops. IT at your company has not grown in the right direction and you have put in systems as you have a need, when you should have found applications that capitalized on your current talent and resources.

You have a Domain Server, it’s a Windows Active Directory (AD) and has many large Windows server with SAN or large storage and provide you a FILE stores. There is also another Windows Server the might provide you Print Server services. There is that large expensive IBM i or System i server that houses your main business application. Be it ERP or something else. It’s there and it’s considered a big drain, but you are looking at this all wrong. If you think the IBM i is a drain on your IT budget then you might be biased and not a bright as you thought you were.

The beauty of the IBM i is it does more than waste your IT budget, and cost you an Admin, if that is how you see then we need to start blowing that out of the water now. CIOs who do no know the value of IBMs offering are not unbiased IT people. I can assure you and I will point out later. I have been on all sides of IT. I can be biased, but my bias is based on fact, not emotion.

Each one of those Windows/Intel Servers on average cost you about $30K. Can you get them for cheaper, yes, should you go cheap when it comes to servers, NO! The File store is going to cost you the most because of the very large disk attached.

Say you have over 2 TB of data on it, and of course you need to back that up. First Windows has trouble managing large volumes of data, so you have already placed you company in a situation your CEO probably does not know he is in yet. You have provided them with a place to backup or share documents and files, yet you have placed it on a server and OS that does not handle and an become unstable managing large volumes of data. It’s not your fault, Microsoft does not go round telling you  how much they stink at doing large IT.

SIDE NOTE: Microsoft is not meant for large scale implementations. They just don’t work well that way. I know this is a hard pill to swallow, but most CEOs and CIOs think that Windows Servers are all fine and do a great job and I would have to disagree with you on some levels. Windows Servers don’t do big IT well. They are able to handle small IT, and even in some cases medium sized IT, but for large scale solutions they just don’t work well unless they are well planned, well managed affairs. System like the IBM i, AiX, BSD, and Linux can do these things for IT.

So, where were we? Oh yes the File Server. Lets make a list of what you might have in this company.

  1. Windows File Server – Quad CPU – Large Disk Space – $30-$50K
  2. Windows Print Server – Quad CPU – Low Disk – High RAM – $7K
  3. Windows AD Server (PDC) – Quad CPU – Built for Growth – $10K-$15
  4. Windows AD Backup Server (BDC) Quad CPU – $10K
  5. Windows Server for Lotus Domino Mail – Quad CPU – Large RAM – Large Disk – $30-$50K
  6. Windows Server for Lotus Applications – Quad CPU – Large RAM – Large Disk – $30-$50K
  7. Windows Server for GPS and Truck Routing App. – Quad CPU – $50K
  8. Windows Server for WWW – Quad CPU – 12GB RAM – $10
  9. Windows Server on WEB for FTP – Dual CPU – $5K
  10. IBM i POWER System – 6 Way CPU – Built for Growth – 3TB DASD – $250K
  11. IBM i POWER System CBU – Fail Over – 6 Way CPU – 3TB DASD – $Fraction of Cost*
  12. Anti Virus for Windows Servers – ($2K Each) X 8 = $16K
  13. Backup Software for Each Windows Server ($1K) X 8 = $8K
  14. Backup Tape Unit for Windows Servers ($30K) X 2 = $60K
  15. Microsoft Support – 30 Incidents – (not 24X7)1 YR – $60K
  16. IBM Power Systems Support (24X7) 3YR – $70K
  17. Lotus Support (24X7) 3YR – $50K

The servers I have listed here are not from any specific company, but just the one I have made up that transports Badger Statues.

On average taking the low number IT cost just for systems would be around $900K – $1M for Servers and other bits. This does not include the IT salary costs. On average Microsoft solutions are going to require more employees since their solutions are more complex and harder to manage then  single IBM i POWER System. This does not seem that bad, but in a bad economic time, how do you reduce cost? The IBM i is the master at doing this.

The IBM i can house 80% to 90% of those Server. That’s right you could in fact put all those extra Windows servers that are costing you thousands of dollars inside the IBM i for little to no added cost. It will also depend on your current IBM i capacity, so lets assume you purchased the proper IBM i for you business and you are running at 30-50% capacity and you just installed it yesterday. That is perfect. You have room to grow. Now lets assume your a smart CIO and want to consolidate you budget.

Lets look at the servers and expenses we can consolidate.

  1. Windows File Server – Quad CPU – Large Disk Space – $30-$50K
  2. Windows Print Server – Quad CPU – Low Disk – High RAM – $7K
  3. Windows AD Server (PDC) – Quad CPU – Built for Growth – $10K-$15
  4. Windows AD Backup Server (BDC) Quad CPU – $10K
  5. Windows Server for Lotus Domino Mail – Quad CPU – Large RAM – Large Disk – $30-$50K
  6. Windows Server for Lotus Applications – Quad CPU – Large RAM – Large Disk – $30-$50K
  7. Windows Server for WWW – Quad CPU – 12GB RAM – $10
  8. Windows Server on WEB for FTP – Dual CPU – $5K
  9. Windows Server for DNS and DHCP – Dual CPU – $10K
  10. Anti Virus for Windows Servers – ($2K Each) X 8 = $16K
  11. Backup Software for Each Windows Server ($1K) X 8 = $8K
  12. Backup Tape Unit for Windows Servers ($30K) X 2 = $60K
  13. Microsoft Support – 35 Incidents – (not 24X7)1 YR – $60K

Holy Cow Batman. You could in fact if you were a smart CIO get rid of over 50% of your budget. Here is how:

  1. Since we will now be using the IBM i as the center of our IT universe and not Windows, you can use Single-Signon or SSO because that comes installed and ready to use, over 90% of the IT shops that use the IBM i don’t use the software tools that are built into the server. SSO is built in and can be turned on for free.
  2. OSes – Microsoft is going to charge you every time you build a new server, they are out to make money and while I am not saying IBM is not, they realize you need to be practical. When you own an IBM i you pay for the OS once, you can use it as many times as you like on that single foot print of hardware, so if you wanted to build 50 IBM i partition servers, you pay for the OS once. If you wanted to build 50 Windows Virtual Machines, you would pay for that OS 50 times? How is that a savings? You want Linux on your POWER system you pay for it once. Not every time you install it.**
  3. Windows File Server -The IBM i has an IFS, which is just like a file server only better. It’s built in, so not only can you take the current install of your IBM i and create file stores, when you need to upgrade the DASD, all you do is add some more to the system. With Windows in some cases you have to rebuild the all the volumes of the OS to add more disk, what a pain in the Admin! This means down time, and employee over-time. That is no way to cut cost. So you are also saying, I don’t want my user files on my main IBM i System with my ERP application. Fair enough, IBM has been doing vitalization longer than most of us have known about computers, in fact your current IBM i is a virtual machine, only not like the crappy VMWare VM’s they build which are, in my opinion, not really VMs like IBM does VMs. You could build a new IBM i partition and install IBM i OS or Linux for file sharing.
  4. Windows Print Server – The IBM i already in most IT shops has every printer configured by the IBM i Admin. Most CIOs don’t know this, but in order for the IBM i to print, all the printers on the network have to be configured in order for them to work. At the same time the Windows Admin is also setting them up on a print server, so by just using the print server on the IBM i you are cutting your IT staffs’ work load in half.
  5. Window AD Servers – Get rid of them, they are a headache and make life impossible at times. Sure they have their advantages but when you are cost cutting trying to do more with less you don’t need them. Just set up the same IBM i partition you are using for file-sharing  and SSO with some Domain information and get rid of them.
  6. Window Server for Lotus – This is a big no brainier. The IBM  runs Domino like it’s not funny. Just build  new partition and put your Domino Servers on it. You may have to increase the amount of Main Storage (RAM) in your IBM i, but the cost savings are significant. Plus the IBM i Lotus team are the smartest people I know. Support on this product is by far the best around.
  7. Windows for WWW and FTP -Since both of these services are included in the OS you can add them to a current partition or create a new one. Neither of these servers are going to impact the performance greatly and now you can more efficiently do ODBC look ups over the back-plane of the hardware and not over the network. FTP can also be secured and made encrypted, which is also included with the OS, with Windows you have to purchase a few more options of third party software.
  8. Windows DNS & DHCP – The IBM i does this naively as well. Why would you build a new server to handle this as well? Either add it to your file server partition or build a new one. You would not need to add to much to that partition to make it run so the cost over head would be small compared to an entire Windows licensees and hardware.
  9. Anti Virus for Windows – Since the IBM i can’t really get infected with a virus (we can cover that later) you don’t really need it anymore. There is Anti-Virus for IBM i file shares and I would recommend it. It’s not that the IBM i or the POWER systems needs it, but in most cases your desktops are all Windows and they can be infected. You will want to put a scanner on the IBM i IFS to watch for problems. The biggest win here is you now stand a chance in stopping an outbreak better since the system you are placing the virus on is not prone to viruses and can just stomp them without the fear of being infected.
  10. One Backup Solution – You won’t need an expensive blown out backup solution. Since you are already backing up your IBM i all you need to do is keep backing it up. There may be some hardware you might need to add depending on you configuration, but it’s far cheaper than adding a new tape device to a Windows system. Oh and you can use that same tape device to backup your IBM i partitions, and your Linux partitions. You could even go the extra mile and purchase BRMS from IBM and really manage the backups. It’s not that much more expensive.
  11. Where is my Database Server – The IBM i’s file system is a Database Server. See before everyone knew about MySQL or Oracle, IBM made the IBM i’s OS a native DB. It’s now called DB2 so that CIOs have something fancy to call it, but it’s already built in. You don’t need ORACLE servers and you don’t need Microsoft SQL servers, The DB2 Server in the IBM i is self managed and the performance is adjusted and you also don’t need to hire a DB Admin like with SQL and Oracle. The IBM i Admin you have now can manage it as well. You want to run MySQL on your IBM i, then go ahead it’s supported by IBM.
  12. Windows in my IBM i – You can in fact put a Intel based card in your IBM i and run Windows on your POWER system. The cards are cheap compared to a server and as far as you know it’s Windows. The upside to running Windows on the POWER system is it’s more stable and uses the DASD you already have. So that GPS/Truck routing Windows application we can’t live without….we just moved it inside the IBM i Server, it’s still running on Windows, yet it’s not eating more power and a space in what is now a pretty empty rack which used to have some 10 – 12 server in it.
  13. Microsoft Support – Pathetic is the first word that comes to mind and overpriced. IBMs support in based in the US, while Microsoft s moving most of it over seas, which means people who don’t understand what you are talking about some of the time and really tragic phone lines to someplace unknown. What most people don’t know about me is I have been on both sides of this coin. I was once an IBM i Admin while also being a Microsoft Windows/Exchange Admin. I supported IBMs products and Microsoft’s products and had to call both companies for support. Microsoft is expensive and limited. If you want the same class of service with Microsoft you are going to have to pay nearly three times what you pay for IBM support.
  14. Oh and OS upgrades, this is where it gets good, while Microsoft is building the next great application or OS so that they can milk you for more of your IT money and charge you when you need to upgrade the OS or say Exchange Server or the latest Windows Server, IBM does not. Say you are paying for support from IBM and version 7 comes out for the IBM i, they just send it to you. No added cost and the upgrade process is as smooth as a babies bottom. The same can’t be said for Microsoft. Lotus works the same way. You just get the next version. It’s included in the cost and with each upgrade comes greater stability and a better product. Microsoft can’t say that with it’s latest set of products, in fact they have decreased performance, made some products more unstable, not done anything to the Windows architecture to make it less resistant to viruses and attacks and made it more expensive. Where is the cost savings there? And does your CIO understand that much less you CEO? Microsoft is inherently bad for your business.

With all this said, moving away from IBM consolidated server is probably the most expensive move you can make, and while I looked at a move away or towards Microsoft, the same can be said for SUN. Right now that has to be the most unstable company in the Enterprise IT space. They are falling apart, giving away products and making wrong moves all over the place. Placing your IT department in Sun’s hands right now is like buying an AMG car the month before they collapse and fell apart. SUN is a bad bet and should be avoided at all cost. I am sure there are many of you out there who would disagree with me, but I am looking at the indicators of a company that is struggling and in it last desperate throws to stay out of bankruptcy.

* CBU Pricing is based on what IBM will work out with you the customer. Usually it is based on a fraction or percentage of what your production system cost and the OS is not charged on the CBU system since US law states you only have to pay for what you “use”.

** Linux OS licensing could change by IBM, Redhat or Novell. Please check with them before purchase, all the information on these products are true when the post was written.

11  Comments on this Post

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  • Lovemyi
    David, finally someone who put it all into the right perspective for the CEOs. The problem is none of us in the trenches have that kind of access to the C level managers let alone the CEO who hired the CIO in the first place. Some times you just need to know when to walk away before it gets too outrageous but then in doing that it will speed up the CIO's point when he cannot hire a replacement becasuse the word is already out about what is happening. It is after all a small community. On the other hand you do need to take this great example and drive it home to the CEO and CFO before they let the CIO get his or her hooks into the meat of the department and rip it's flesh out. Keep up the good thoughts to challenge the i community to step up to the plate.
    2,310 pointsBadges:
  • David Vasta
    Thanksw Lovemyi, I thought I would get nothing but flames for this post and it's been in the hopper for about a week now. Too many IBM i shops have seen this or are about to see it and for no other reason than IBM has dropped the ball in getting the word out and Technology C level people today are intimidated by everything IBM puts out because the assume it cost a lot. When it really is in line with what what they want to do with someone eases technology. Sadly most companies under use the IBM i.
    975 pointsBadges:
  • Teandy
    David, Great article!! I do have a question though. In your article you state "If you want the same class of service with IBM you are going to have to pay nearly three times what you pay for IBMs support." Did you mean to say "If you want the same class of service with MICROSOFT you are going to have to pay nearly three times what you pay for IBMs support." or did I misunderstand the sentence?
    5,860 pointsBadges:
  • David Vasta
    @Teandy - You are correct, that is a common case of David's brain going faster than David's fingers. I will correct it. Thanks for the "HINT" -David
    975 pointsBadges:
  • David Vasta
    @ALL - Sorry for the spelling. Something went wrong with the document versioning in Wordpress and it reverted back to an older version. ITKE just upgraded to the latest version so this may be apart of the upgrade process that junked it up. Sorry. I have fixed that as well, and while I am no great speller, I do use spell check so it was right when I posted it but we have about 12 versions because I started it before the upgrade and published it after the upgrade.
    975 pointsBadges:
  • Allthatjazz
    This article is exactly what I went through 3 years ago. I even ran up a cost comparison between the 2 systems with the AS/400 saving over 1M initially and 40K annually, but upper management was bent on getting rid of our new As/400. I have since moved on...
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  • David Vasta
    @Allthatjazz- I am sure there are plenty more stories out there. I once also heard someone say that IBM was lying about the savings and that SUN equipment (Crappy as it was at the time) could replace it with ease. What they all fail to include is the cost or expense that it took to get you to that point and how that is now ll wasted as well. The IBM Power Systems are a one stop drop in solution in any IT shop. Hands down. If you are not at least looking at that as a solution then you are doing your company and your BoD a disservice.
    975 pointsBadges:
  • LukasB
    First, let me say that i enjoyed the first half of the post. There is no reason to migrate away from a platform that the users are content with, that fulfills all your business needs and is still fully supported by its vendors. Moving from a working platform to a new one purely because of "strategic" reasons is a very bad idea. But the rest of your post is all downhill. If you make statements like: [I]. First Windows has trouble managing large volumes of data[/I] you'lll have to qualify them. a) What do you mean by "large volumes of data"? Databases? Large files? Many small files? A large number of single files in the same directory? b) # Windows AD Server (PDC) - Quad CPU - Built for Growth - $10K-$15 Four CPUs for a DC? They're not usually not CPU bound. Yes, quality hardware isn't cheap, i would go for a good two socket server, add a quad core CPU, enough RAM to fit the whole ntds.dit (so depending on the size of your AD environment) - for 3000 guys probably around 4-8GB. Also: There's no distinction between DCs - there are no BDCs since Windows 2000. Exception: FSMO roles. They do not consume resources in day-to-day usage. c) # Anti Virus for Windows Servers - ($2K Each) X 8 = $16K Hmm. McAfee is licensed per node. We have about 50 nodes. We paid about 7000 CHF for all of them (perpetual license). We pay 4000 CHF per year for support & software upgrades. d) If you wanted to build 50 Windows Virtual Machines, you would pay for that OS 50 times? No, you would license Windows on a per-CPU base. e) You can in fact put a Intel based card in your IBM i and run Windows on your POWER system. The cards are cheap compared to a server and as far as you know it’s Windows. The cards are WDM. They're replaced by iSCSI attached Blades in an IBM BladeCenter. So they're exactly the same, except that you use an IBM i as a SAN instead of a DS3300. f) Say you are paying for support from IBM and version 7 comes out for the IBM i, they just send it to you. Nice. Microsoft has two seperate offers for that: Software Assurance for the updates, and Support contracts for support. IBM merges them into one product, MS has two. Please - there is a lot of valid criticism for Microsoft, but the second part of your post is just pointless "Microsoft sucks" drivel. It doesn't help anyone, it just makes the (very good) first part of your post look worse.
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  • David Vasta
    @LucasB - Thanks for the post, and the comments. You make some fine points all around. I agree with you that saying "Microsoft Sucks" is in bad form, but I kind of did it to make a point and to stay on point with all the usual rhetoric from all the usual Microsoft stinks crowd. It was meant to be more fun and topical than it was to drag down the post. I guess it sounded better in my head. The other more specific entries are valid as well. You well could use less hardware and different cost to justify it out and save money, but I was working from 8 years of Notes and invoices I have collected and was using a very "general" brush to paint it all. As for the VM comments. I was not aware that Microsoft offered pricing per CPU, that is news to me. I kind of gave up on the idea of Microsoft VMs years ago, they have always had VM issues and have always had points where you have to wonder if its the VM or the Windows causing this trouble. I have never been comfortable with Windows on a VM, I don't think Windows has either. I will submit that there are plenty of shops out there doing it, I just have to wonder if they are doing it for the "cool" factor or they really mean it. -David
    975 pointsBadges:
  • David Vasta
    Oh and I threw in the BDC since you may or may not be surprised as to how many Windows NT shops still exist and a BDC is still "talked" about even in a Windows 2003 environment. I know and you know they are gone, but I have walked into Data Centers in the last 3 years that have a Windows 2003 Server AD, marked and referred to as the BDC.
    975 pointsBadges:
  • LukasB
    David, Yeah - i make the same mistake. Regarding VMs: It took quite some time until Microsoft started officially supporting VMs - full support for VMware for example was added last year. Also note that there is a difference between using consumer oriented products like VMware Workstation, VirtualPC (which sucks in every way), Virtualbox and enterprise oriented virtualization solutions like VMware ESX/ESXi or Microsoft's Hyper-V. I've managed production environments with the latter, and they work well. The real need for virtualization comes (IMO) in order to segregate applications onto multiple servers - which is a requirement for most 3rd party apps, and even some first party apps. The reasons for this are mostly stupid, but virtualization helps saving hardware in those cases. In larger environments, virtualization has evolved - vmotion, storage vmotion are new technologies, that also have just been added to IBMs virtualization strategy (partition mobility). They allow new use cases for VMs, like hardware independent deployment, which is very cool. The per-socket licensing for Windows is done by the Windows Server Datacenter product.
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