This article is part one of a two-part series. Part two can be found here.
Sometimes simple choices are good, useful and necessary (e.g., when I specified precisely the stock-but-rare car I wanted: a blue Honda Accord with a six-speed stick shift, six-cylinder engine, navigation system). And sometimes complexity wins (e.g., instead of buying off-the-shelf PCs, specifying the innumerable components in my built-to-order PCs). But occasionally I'd like to avoid both complexity and choices (e.g., when I'm fulfilling my wife's grocery list and either can't find things I've never heard of or am overwhelmed by having to pick the one desired package of something from 10, 20, or more alternatives).
Similarly, sometimes it's appropriate—challenging, interesting, enjoyable even—configuring System z hardware and software down to the finest level of detail, cherishing each selected component and feature. But other times, you just want a comprehensive assemblage that works, with internal compatibility assured and finger pointing eliminated. At those times, for those projects, consider IBM solution editions.
IBM System z Solution Editions
IBM introduced solution editions to demonstrate that running new workloads on System z is both technically viable and cost-effective. These bundles provide competitive bottom-line pricing for meeting diverse requirements such as SAP, WebSphere Application Server, cloud, business analytics and Linux.
Solution editions simplify procurement by soft-bundling necessary solution components (e.g., hardware, operating system, middleware, support and services, or a mix of these components). They are delivered individually or can be integrated, configured and tuned onsite with services.
Features can be added to a system bought as a solution edition, though add-ons may not receive discounting matching the original offering. And restrictions may limit software that can run in a solution edition environment—you can't run legacy workloads (e.g., CICS) in such an environment.
Solution editions are available for new system purchases and can be added to installed systems. The solution edition environment must be a dedicated LPAR. A complicating factor is that the days of published/fixed prices are long gone; the current situation sometimes seems a blend of “The Price is Right,” “Let's Make a Deal” and eBay. To acquire solution editions, after performing initial research, IBM suggests contacting a company representative or business partner to receive a bottom-line bid for all components. Price points and discounts applied are optimistically described as being "at a level needed to deliver a competitive price compared to a distributed alternative." Rather than being fixed-size, there's flexibility; Solution editions are custom-sized based on current and future needs. They are available on both zEC12 and zBC12 servers. Solution editions are well received, particularly in SAP and Linux arenas and the financial sector. Oracle data serving consolidation on Linux on System z is also a good fit, and many WebSphere Solution Editions are in place. There's no geographic pattern to installations.
Current System z customers and new mainframe sites both find value with bundled solutions. They help existing clients looking to host new platform workloads and exploit existing System z infrastructure and investments. Sites new to mainframes often buy Enterprise Linux Server (ELS) as an infrastructure foundation (e.g., applications, cloud, database consolidation, etc.)
Documentation is at the component level; the offerings are defined for a period of time, usually three years but often longer.