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New White Paper Compares SPARC/Solaris to Power/AIX Costs. Guess Who Wins?

Guest Author

One thing that's been clear since the launch of Oracle's new Sun SPARC T5 and M5 systems: it got IBM's attention. Judging from their response, they seem to be... I'm going to go with concerned.

And as I've said before, I don't blame them. A company with a long history behind them, they've made undeniable contributions to the industry, and things were looking good for their enterprise server business, buoyed by the performance of their Power7 processor. But their progress in that area seems to have slowed a bit.  So: concerned.

This report isn't going to help that feeling.

The Edison Group has just released a white paper: Enterprise Server Infrastructure Cost of Ownership: Oracle SPARC T5-2 with Oracle Solaris 11 versus IBM Power 750 Express with AIX 7.1. Spoiler alert: the Oracle systems do better. Key findings:

  • Over a five year period, the Power system solution has a total cost of ownership 59 percent higher than the SPARC T5 solution.
  • There's even more of a disparity in cost of acquisition, where the IBM solution is twice as expensive right out of the chute.

One of the things I found notable was their discovery that Oracle SPARC systems in the field are much more efficiently virtualized than IBM Power systems, with an average of 20 virtualized instances per system as opposed to IBM's 12. This goes against perceptions I've encountered with some people, but is not surprising to me, since Oracle Solaris virtualization is well integrated with the OS, and is extremely efficient in terms of application performance. Of course, it doesn't help IBM's virtualization case that for a system of the class being compared, PowerVM Enterprise Edition will run you an extra $13,440 per server. That's the kind of thing that drives down technology adoption.

Even more interesting: that IBM server with 12 virtualized instances incurs operational and technical services costs that are 28 percent higher over five years than an Oracle server with 20.

There are lots of other worthwhile nuggets in the paper. If you've got services to deploy, you absolutely should give this a read.

Download the white paper (PDF)

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Comments ( 1 )
  • guest Monday, April 7, 2014

    The only finding I can really agree with in that write-up is that IBM's micro-partitioning technology (introduced in POWER5/AIX 5 a decade ago) has no analog in the SPARC/Solaris world of today.

    The contention that it is easier to virtualize and you get more virtual machines in T4 seems highly suspect unless you violate all of the best-practice rules for getting good performance and stability from the T4 hardware.

    Solaris 11 may be the differentiator, but using OVMSS/LDOM to virtualize I/O in a Solaris 10 on T4 environment is no better than (and arguably worse then) what IBM debuted in the POWER5/AIX 5 time.

    It's a crying shame that the independent research firm didn't talk with my team or my management at my last job...

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