How I found out that I might not exist

My name in lights - or is it?

I got an e-mail from an old acquaintance of mine, David Jones, a z/VM and Linux expert at V/Soft, Inc ( He sent me to the valuable Technology News website at, where there was an article called Bears Turns (For those unfamiliar with it: Technology News is full of information and insight on mainframes - recommended reading)

This article covers a lot of ground: financial institutions, the economy, the Glass Steagall Act, and IBM (and competitors like Sun) and System z. It says a number of interesting and insightful things (rather than quote them, I suggest you just go there). The article also mentions this blog. Hooray, my name in lights.

Jeff learns two things

I now learned that "Savit" in Hindustani means "Sun", so an observer might think my name is a pseudonym. No such luck - I'm really me, for good or for ill.

The article pointed out a mistake of mine - one I did on purpose. I didn't include the price for mainframe RAM, so I understated the cost of running on mainframes. That was deliberate: At that time I didn't know the price, I chose to just leave it out of the calculations I made in my previous blog entries. I would rather err on the side of being conservative rather than inflate the price of a competitor's product. I think that's fair and ethical.

Re-work the numbers

I looked around and got an estimate, so I can revise my previous figures (which the article cited above correctly said understates IBM costs) as follows:
  • IBM claimed 26 IFLs would do the work of 760 cores on Sun AMD servers (in their dreams!) Well, 26 times $125,000 is $3,250,000
  • I compared to the Sun servers, including RAM and disk, at $451,820. IBM costs 7 times as much even using their bogus capacity and utilization assumption
  • But, the RAM would be about $6K per GB (down from $8K on z9. Still many times higher than we charge on our servers! says $255 for 4GB on AMD server; $440 for 4GB on T5240; $4K for 4GB on M4000/5000. Different features and prices, but all a lot less than on IBM z). A minimum configuration z10 model E26 has 64GB of RAM (according to the z10 EC Tech Intro document). So, at minimum, that's an additional cost of $384,000, raising the total cost to $3,364,000. Now IBM is 8x more expensive - using the minimum/cheapest IBM configuration.
  • I don't think that's remotely enough memory to do the job of 380 machines, so you might want to consider what it would cost with a lot more RAM. This scenario replaces 380GB of RAM with only 64GB of RAM, so I think you'll thrash terribly: OLTP applications are memory intensive, and at the proposed 90% busy you can't count on idle workloads being paged out to disk. If you give it equivalent RAM the cost would be 380GB times $6K, or $2,280,000. Yikes. Now the System z CPU+memory cost is $5,530,000, 12 times more expensive than Sun.
  • But I don't believe the premise in the first place: the z doesn't have remotely the compute power needed to do the job, and they fudged the numbers by proposing it replace almost-idle database servers while it ran flat out. That's just silly. If we run our servers at the same utilization IBM proposes for itself, the Sun solution would be $51,127. Now the ratio (fairly computed) is close to 68 times more expensive on IBM using minimum/cheapest RAM configuration on IBM, and 108 times more expensive on IBM using equivalent RAM.

Okay, it's only a game. What difference does it make whether mainframe is 7x or 8x more expensive (with bogus utilization) or 63x to 108x more expensive (with equivalent utilization). It's just a heck of a lot more expensive, and you have to rely on the unproven, untested, unverifiable benchmarketing that says it can do the job in the first place.

Question to any enterprising reader: what would be the price for the mainframe disk? I don't know, and I'd like to make the competition a little more fair but including for IBM what I factored in for Sun. :-) <script type="text/javascript"> var sc_project=6611784; var sc_invisible=1; var sc_security="4251aa3a"; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>

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