Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Consultancy Puts IBM’s TCO Claims to the Test

As if to emphasize my final note of last year, Stephen Swoyer of Enterprise Systems Journal starts off the year with this article : "Consultancy Puts IBM’s TCO Claims to the Test", subtitled "Do Big Blue’s mainframe TCO assertions add up?". The article focuses on a study by Wayne Kernochan, an analyst with consultancy Illuminata Inc. It looks at the way IBM presents the TCO of the mainframe divided into hardware, software licensing, people (e.g., administration, implementation, and upgrading), and environmental (e.g., electricity and air conditioning) costs. It seems to be clear that system administration and environmental costs are clearly more advantageous for the mainframe. The hardware itself is still more expensive, but then again, much less than, say, 5 years ago. Software costs should be about the same on all platforms. The strongest criticism is that IBM clearly underestimates the people cost for "for application, infrastructure, and (especially) database management", meaning "the more database instances you consolidate on a single system, the more DBAs you’ll have to have on hand to effectually manage them". But Kernochan immediately adds : "The reverse of this argument is that these costs are universal".
His conclusion is that IBM TCO claims do have merit : "Add it all together and mainframe TCO can look quite attractive. Administrative costs are often lower—even much lower—and … hardware, software, and physical plant costs are not … the drag they once were."

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