9 times out of 10 you should NOT buy LinuxONE – Part 1

Don’t worry this is not a clickbait blog post where we pivot from the title that got you to click in the first paragraph, I am serious, you should NOT buy a LinuxONE server from IBM for 90% of your IT requirements.  “Wait?” I hear you ask, aren’t you the Worldwide Sales Leader tasked with selling LinuxONE?

You are correct, my sole job is to sell LinuxONE servers for IBM. Often times 60 hours a week, my singular task is to convince clients all around the world, in collaboration with IBM Systems sellers and their IBM counterparts, to spend hundreds of thousands, often millions of dollars on LinuxONE servers. Put more starkly 50% of my salary is tied to the sales of LinuxONE, so if my 4 kids want to eat and ultimately get through college without debt then I better get people to buy LinuxONE servers.

So why, given the context above, am I saying that clients should NOT buy a LinuxONE server for 90% of their IT requirements?  Let me explain.

Public cloud is all the rage, as I speak to clients every week, they are all on a journey to a cloud-delivered world.  My sales teams tell me every week that client ABC or ZYX has an ‘all cloud’ strategy and that their senior IT leadership team will not entertain any infrastructure that is not in the public cloud.  The team sees this strategy from the client as the ultimate excuse, drawing a line to a point sometime in the near future where all compute is delivered by a large public cloud provider and where no on-premises infrastructure remains.

Workloads on commodity x86 servers should be in the public cloud.

While not as crazy as my original statement – 9 times out of 10 people should NOT buy LinuxONE – it is still a heresy for an IBM server salesman whose job it is to sell on-premises IT infrastructure. Let me go further and explain my thinking.

When I speak to clients who are on the ‘all cloud’ journey I hear their frustration at server sprawl in the datacenters, the hamster wheel they have been on for the last couple of decades to continually patch and administer ever-increasing numbers of commodity rack mounted ‘pizza box’ servers or blades.  I hear in their voices the unfulfilled promise of virtualisation and how the servers that clients have bought are still underutilised, often scarily so, with server utilisation hovering in the low teens for many clients.

For the vast majority of these on-premises servers, their fate is sealed.  They will be migrated to the public cloud, if not straight away, then within 2 refreshes.  Within the next 10-years all commodity x86 server workloads will be transitioned to the public cloud.

However, the keyword in the paragraph above is ‘commodity’ as it applies to x86 servers.  Not all x86 servers are created equal, as all Linux workloads are not created equal.  The 2-socket commodity x86 server market, where the price of the server is under $20K, is gone, clients will and should migrate the workloads running on these commodity x86 servers to the public cloud.  Clients should realise the benefits of flexibility driven by Kubernetes and containerization, get off the hamster wheel, and stop worrying about server utilization and the inherent costs it represents by using the benefits of the public cloud consumption models.

For 90% of your IT requirements, you should NOT buy a LinuxONE server and you should wholeheartedly embrace the public cloud.

Convinced that you were right all along with your ‘all cloud’ strategy then why not 100% is probably the only remaining question.

Analogies help, so let me use one.  Everyone understands car analogies.  Most of us own cars, cars for the purpose of this analogy equate to commodity x86 servers.  The vast majority of us own or lease a car, we use it 2 or 3 times a day, most days for less than a couple of hours and we pay handsomely for the privilege.  Car manufacturers have long tapped into our desire to own a car and have it be the ultimate status symbol.  The premium car manufacturers spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on advertising to convince us their car is more desirable and better than those made by their peers.

As I mentioned cars represent on-premises commodity x86 servers.  The public cloud is Uber and Lyft in this analogy.  If you live in a built-up area then the prevailing math states that it is more economical to not own a car and rather let someone else drive you around in the back of their car in a ride sharing model.  The public cloud is Uber…

Where does LinuxONE fit in this analogy?  LinuxONE is an airplane.  Boeing or Airbus don’t compete with Ford, GM or VW for car sales, and neither should LinuxONE compete with commodity x86 servers.  In the same way that we make informed choices whether to fly or drive to your destination so you should make an informed decision about whether to choose a commodity x86 based cloud service or an on-premises LinuxONE solution.  How do we make this decision of whether to fly or drive, to go the cloud or buy a LinuxONE?  Well, that is the subject of the second blog in this mini-series. Click here to find out how you make the choice.