IBM has been hoping for years that Linux would drive new workloads on Power-based systems where OS/400-i platforms are the back-end systems – just as Linux-based partitions have, to a certain extent, been the salvation of the System z mainframe.
It is hard to say for sure how much traction Linux has with OS/400 and i shops – or even AIX shops for that matter – but what I can tell you is that Big Blue wants you to give Linux a shot so badly that it is willing to fork out the cash to get you to try the first licence.
In announcement letter 310-291, IBM is offering a special promotion on Red Hat's Enterprise Linux. Under the deal, if you buy a Power Systems Express configuration plus either the PowerVM Standard or the Enterprise Edition hypervisor (neither of which are free), then IBM will toss in a support subscription licence to the Power version of RHEL. The deal presumably covers Power 5XX and Power 7XX rack and tower servers as well as PS7XX blade servers, but the announcement does not say. So assume the widest possible case.
IBM says that the RHEL support contract is worth $795 in the announcement letter, and I have no idea where IBM came up with that number. Red Hat announced RHEL 6 in mid-November, and as far as I know, a support contract for RHEL 6 costs $2,700 per year for a two-socket pair on any Power-based system. That is for a standard 9x5 business support contract; if you want 24x7 hand-holding for your RHEL 6, then you have to shell out $4,300 per socket pair per year. But if IBM says it will cover the cost of a licence and it is worth more money than it thinks it is, just take the support and run.
And in another no-good-deed-goes-unpunished move, IBM had to revamp another Linux-related deal on Power Systems because customers are more clever than IBM thinks sometimes.
Back in August, IBM offered a deal on older Power 570 and 595 machines and on newer Power 770 and 780 machines whereby if you bought a RHEL 4 or 5 licence or a Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 or 11 licence for support, IBM would toss in activation fees for up to eight processor cores and up to 32 GB of main memory.
Because these CPU and memory activation features can be quite expensive, this was a very generous offer. And it looks like some customers bought RHEL and SLES support contracts just to get cheap iron. Because, in announcement letter 310-277, IBM added this qualification: "No other IBM Operating System may be ordered for the no-charge processor activations at any time in the 12-month period following the date of activation."
You know the Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rules. ®