POWER > Business Strategy > Competitive Advantage

Chip Wars

Chip Wars

Organizations use many criteria to choose a particular computing platform, but cost is usually at the top of the list. Open systems, corporate standards, reference architectures and open-source software are also important considerations.

Regardless of the criteria used, it’s important to review what actually happened when an organization finally puts a chosen platform into production. Questions that need to be asked are:

  • Did it work as planned?
  • Was it a failure?
  • Were adjustments required, and if so, what kind?

Those questions intrigued Skip Garvin, senior technical solutions manager in the IBM Systems Lab Services Migration Factory. For more than 35 years, the Migration Factory has worked with thousands of clients and performed myriad migrations, giving Garvin abundant material for his analysis.

“Choosing a system based largely on cost may not be the best decision. Low-cost solutions don’t always save money, and, in many instances, will end up costing you money.”
—Skip Garvin, senior technical solutions manager, IBM Systems Lab Services Migration Factory

Garvin examined two basic categories: clients who initially selected POWER*, moved to Intel* x86 and returned to POWER; and clients who initially selected x86 and then moved to POWER.

Recently, a third category has emerged, focusing on open-source databases and SAP HANA. Clients chose x86 for these solutions as neither SAP nor open-source vendors supported the POWER platform initially. Happily, this is no longer the case. The POWER platform runs SAP HANA and open-source databases with ease, providing formidable competition to x86 for these solutions.

“We have more than 600 clients who have moved from x86 to POWER for their SAP HANA solution,” says Garvin.

In his analysis, Garvin found clients in the first two categories chose x86 expecting the new solution would cost much less, embrace open standards, and still provide the performance, reliability and scalability to meet the client’s current and future business needs. Clients were willing to accept a “good enough” system even if performance and other attributes were compromised.

Garvin’s research found when a client was unsatisfied with its x86 solution, no matter why it was chosen in the first place, “the client moved to the POWER platform for one simple reason—the x86 system didn’t work,” he says.

“Performance, reliability, availability and scalability didn’t matter until they weren’t there,” Garvin says. “Choosing a system based largely on cost may not be the best decision. Low-cost solutions don’t always save money, and, in many instances, will end up costing you money.”

Shirley S. Savage is a Maine-based freelance writer. Shirley can be reached at savage.shirley@comcast.net.



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