The last blog I wrote, How much does a SAP HANA appliance really cost?, seemed to pique people’s interest. However, there were two really big questions that came for me out of it: what about the world’s best selling HANA appliance, the IBM X5, and what about the new SAP Certified Appliance Hardware for SAP HANAIvy Bridge appliances based on the IBM X6?

So, I painstakingly went through the IBM specification sheets for the IBM X5 appliance, and pieced together what precise IBM components would be required, and what the list price would be. Then, I went through the internet and found street prices for each component, which should give you a feeling for your negotiating power. Here’s what it looks like for 256GB (2 Socket, Size S) and 521GB (4 Socket, Size M) appliances:

Description

Part

256GB List

256GB Street

512GB List

512GB Street

Base System

7143C3U

26699

17602.12

26699

17602.12

CPUs

69Y1899

0

0

16698

15611.98

RAM (16GB)

49Y1400

17184

4607.84

34368

9215.68

785GB Flash

46C9081

13499

6499

13499

6499

8x600GB Disk

49Y2003

6632

2120

6632

2120

M5015 RAID

46M0829

749

379.95

749

379.95

4x 1G Ethernet

49Y4240

529

285

529

285

SuSe Linux

00D8096

7250

6224

14499

12448.06

2x Emulext 10G

49Y7950

1258

483.84

1258

483.84

Total

$73800

$38201.75

$114931

$64645.63

So IBM list pricing is much higher than Dell – nearly double, but the discount you can expect is much heavier too. Note that this does not include GPFS licensing, but for a single node, I don’t see what GPFS brings.

Figuring this out for IBM X6 was much harder, and I may have made some small mistakes – please correct me if you see any. Ivy Bridge appliances only require 500GB of flash, and 3x RAM for snapshot disk, so they should be relatively cheaper. Plus, the IBM X6 appliance uses the flash storage in DIMM slots, which is very innovative. It is a very cool looking appliance. Here’s what the pricing looks like:

Description

Part

512GB List

512GB Street

1TB List

1TB Street

Base System

3837C4U

28349

25934.58

28349

25934.58

CPUs

44X3996

0

0

20918

20313.1

RAM (8GB)

00D5036

12736

7036.8

0

0

RAM (16GB)

46W0672

0

0

22720

12476.8

4x200GB Flash

00FE000

12316

12123

12316

12123

4×1.2TB

00AJ146

3956

3928.04

3956

3928.04

SuSe Linux

00D8096

7250

6224

14499

12448.06

Total

64607

55246.42

102758

87223.58

This is fascinating. At list price, a 256GB X5 system is the same price as a 512GB X6, and a 512GB X5 is even more expensive than the 1TB X6. This is notionally because the main cost in a system is the number of CPUs, and IvyBridge is 2x as powerful per CPU.

However, the discounts available for IvyBridge hardware are a fraction of what is available for Westmere hardware – whilst we can expect nearly a 50% discount off list for X5, I was seeing just a 15% discount for X6. I’m certain that this will change once the components are more readily available.

Conclusions

I took a few things away from this – first, you can buy a 512GB Westmere appliance from Dell online for $50k, whilst IBM’s street price is $65k. This probably means that my street prices can be negotiated further down by a savvy buyer.

And second, the $50k 1TB system that I predicted this year is not here yet, at least from IBM. But, given the $100k list price from IBM, once components settle down, we should definitely expect $50k from other vendors in 2014 – this should be your price target as a buyer. Once Huawei properly enters the US and EMEA markets, things will get very interesting because their FusionCube is clearly a very innovative system and may be much lower cost to build.

My third point is that these prices are for Data Mart or BW on HANA appliances. For Business Suite on HANA, we are allowed up to 1.5TB RAM per CPU (3x more). I need to price these out but they will be very cost-effective for up to 6TB!

My last point I’d like to make is that most systems I’m working on with HANA are much bigger than this – multi-node, scale out systems with 5-20TB RAM. Please don’t expect pricing to increase linearly for much bigger systems, because they require shared storage and much more expensive, 10-40GB/sec interconnects and networking.

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12 Comments

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    1. John Appleby Post author

      I should write about this some time. I have developed a style of blogging, where I allocate exactly 30 minutes. I cut out all distractions during the process and immediately publish it.

      Once I have an idea of what I want to write, I find a 30 minute slot between meetings and push it out.

      Now you know 🙂

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  1. Carsten Nitschke

    Hi John,

    the IBM SingleNode Configurations carry a lighter version of the GPFS FileSystem on it. Still makes sense for the read-write perfomance and the spreading of data on the disk. Yet if you want to do scale out you have to upgrade those licenses. Most interestingly is for me though that IBM holds above 50% of the market share of the HANA Appliances considering they are #3 on Intel Server market. There must be some clear difference which is not visible in the pure part costing. 😉 Can you tell I have worked for them in the past ?

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    1. John Appleby Post author

      🙂

      I understand that the market share depends on appliance size. For smaller appliances, I believe IBM are not the market leader, though it varies by region.

      By sales volume IBM are by far the largest, because most of the very large HANA systems are based on IBM. I’ve never seen a non-IBM appliance greater than 8TB, for example. Why is this? I’d say because the IBM appliance is easy to expand, scale, and works well in large deployments, and IBM have an excellent relationship with SAP in Walldorf.

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    2. Steve Stringer

      You raise a good point about the single appliances using a ‘light’ version of GPFS.  In a scale out environment with IBM first three HANA appliances require a GPFS server licence, very expensive.  All nodes after the first three require what is known as a GPFS FPO licence, which is really cheap. 

      What’s interesting is that GPFS is charged using IBM’s PVU system IBM Processor Value Unit [PVU] licensing for Distributed Software, which is essentially ‘per-core’ pricing.  As each Ivy Bridge CPUs used in X6 have 15 rather than 10 cores the GPFS cost in a scale out system is 50% more than X5.

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      1. Lin Hu

        GPFS for Hana is GPFS FPO (GPFS File Placement Optimizer) edition which is significantly cheaper then GPFS server edition.

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        1. Steve Stringer

          Hi Lin,

          You cannot create a GPFS cluster using FPO licenses only.  At least one server node is required for tasks such as cluster configuration manager, quorum node and manager node functions.  However, in practice just one server nodes would be a huge disadvantage, as the cluster cannot operate without the server/quorum node present.  Two nodes is also problematic, as you need over 50% of quorum nodes to be present, so if either quorum node is down GPFS is not able to function.  That’s why the first three nodes need to be GPFS server nodes.  All other nodes use FPO.

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  2. Phil Gleadhill

    Hi John,

    Thanks again for an informative article.

    A couple of things that may add to the value of the article.

    1. IBM simply won’t sell a SAP HANA appliance without GPFS no matter the size. Here in Oz they bundle a 3 year GPFS license into the price, with the GPFS license priced per node. They won’t separate it. Similarly 3 years of full hardware support is also included.

    2. Here in Oz, we have experienced a 10% dive in the value of the $AUD vs the $USD over the past 3 or 4 months, so the prices go up here accordingly.

    3. A lot gets down to commercial negotiations, the better the expertise you have on your side, the better the result. Also in smaller deals IBM here deal through Channel Partners, who are usually more flexible and let’s say rapid to deal with.

    4. We have just had IBM in this morning talking about the X6 range, it looks good. The distinction between the 3850 and the 3950 models is also worth knowing about. If you want to start small and scale up beyond 1TB, you must start with a 3950, the cap on the 3850 is currently 1TB.

    Once again thanks.

    Cheers, Phil G.

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  3. Amit Saxena

    Hi John,

    Very nice document,

    I would like to know price list for T-shirt size ‘M’ (4 CPU socket enabling scale out option) from fujitsu and/or HP . Primaryly for migrating BW on HANA Database.

    Please let me know if you  have these details or may be how to find out these details??

    Thanks and Regards,

    Amit.

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