Hi, My name is David Watts and I publish books and papers for IBM Redbooks on x86 topics. I work at the large IBM campus here in Research Triangle Park in Raleigh, North Carolina in the US. I've been writing and publishing for IBM Redbooks since 1997.
Cliff Kinard has agreed to let me join him as a blogger here on the System x and BladeCenter x86 Server Blog to let me share my insights on IBM products and technology that I come across in my day job.
I’m currently working on a paper on IBM Features on Demand. I had a couple of subject matter experts work with me to write the paper:
- Mike Hurman from Cape Town in South Africa
- Jonathan Hiott from Atlanta from Georgia here in the US.
I posted the first draft of our Redpaper “Using IBM System x Features on Demand” just the other day. Check it out and let me know what you think.
I thought I’d use this first post to tell you what Features on Demand (FoD) is and why you’d use it.
Introducing Features on Demand
Features on Demand (FoD) is method to add features to an IBM System x server without having to add hardware. The idea is that we (IBM) include the capability with the server but we don’t charge you for it. If you want the feature, you pay only at the time you first enable it.
An example is the Gigabit Ethernet ports on the IBM System x3530 M4 that was announced earlier this year. The server has the hardware for four Ethernet ports at the back as you can see in the photo below, but you only pay for the two that are enabled out of the box. The server has little black covers over the other two ports to remind you they aren’t active.
Pictured: The rear view of the IBM System x3530 M4 server showing the Ethernet ports.
If you want those two extra Gigabit ports enabled at the start, you just include that as part of your order (FoD upgrades are part numbers and feature codes just like all other options). This particular upgrade is part number 90Y9314.
If you’re ordering a customized order directly from the factory, then IBM will install the upgrade for you and all four ports will be active when you open the box.
If you don’t need the two extra ports right away, that’s ok too. When you do decide you want them, here’s what you do:
- Order the same part number, 90Y9314
- You’ll receive in the mail (postal mail or email) a piece of paper or PDF with an authorization code.
- Go to the IBM Features on Demand web site, enter that code and download a key file
- You then use one of a variety of IBM tools to upload the key. The IMM2 web interface is the easiest one to use.
- Reboot the server and the 2 extra ports are now enabled.
The benefits of FoD are pretty clear:
- Upgrade as you go
When you’re ready to upgrade to add ports or other functionality, the process is easy.
- Lower upfront cost
Purchase keys at a later time and add to existing hardware. For example, if you don’t need premium features like RAID 6 and 60 in your RAID controller, or FCoE in an Emulex 10 GbE adapter, then you don’t need to purchase them when you initially order the server.
- Software-based key upgrades
Features on Demand is software based. There are no additional hardware components to install so remote deployment is much easier and key deployment can be scripted if needed to upgrade multiple systems at once.
That’s all for now. In upcoming postings, I’ll talk about what FoD offerings we have right now, some trick I’ve discovered along the way as we’ve written the Redpaper, and what the implications are if you have to get your system serviced because of a hardware failure.
If you’re eager to read more, check out the paper “Using IBM System x Features on Demand” from IBM Redbooks!
Your turn: What experiences have you had with Features on Demand?