Monday, September 20, 2021

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Background on TCO

What Was Measured

Who Was Surveyed

Configurations Tested

Breakdown of the
TCO Components

Importance of Reliability

The Value of an Hour

Cluster Reliability Findings

Class 1 TCO Findings

Class 2 TCO Findings

Class 3 TCO Findings


Total Cost of Ownership for Enterprise Class Clusters

A Detailed Comparison of the Total Cost of Ownership of Four RISC-Based Cluster Solutions Designed to Provide High Availability. (January 2002)

Despite a slowdown in corporate IT spending in 2001, the use of e-business and e-commerce applications continues to grow necessitating more stringent uptime requirements for the new business models these applications support. As a result, more and more companies are deploying clustered servers in an effort to keep their primary applications up and running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is especially true since today’s competition is only a mouse-click away. In June of 2000, TechWise Research published the report entitled: Total Cost of Ownership for Enterprise Class Clusters. That paper summarized the findings of a robust total cost of ownership analysis of high-end RISC-based clusters from four manufacturers: Compaq Computer, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Sun Microsystems. Since that paper's publication, all four of these manufacturers have introduced newer systems that offer greater performance at a lower cost, making the earlier paper out-dated. This white paper updates the findings from the 2000 report.

This updated analysis is based on 93 interviews that TechWise Research conducted in mid-2000 with IT professionals in the United States. All of the costs associated with installing, managing, and maintaining enterprise class clusters were collected in these interviews. The number of hours and costs for various downtime events each company experienced over a twelve-month period were also collected. To update this white paper, TechWise Research re-analyzed the data with new system and service pricing based on current server models.(1) The Reliability-Adjusted Total Cost of OwnershipTM was then calculated for three different classes of enterprise clusters. Since the value of application availability varies from firm to firm, the TCO was calculated at hourly downtime rates ranging from $25,000 to $300,000 per hour.

Study Results: The list price for the three classes of clusters used in this updated study ranged from $600,000 to more than $4 million. Although these systems are expensive, acquisition costs represent only a small portion of the total cost of ownership over a five-year period. This is because these clusters are deployed in mission-critical applications where the cost per hour of downtime is measured in the tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars. The costs associated with cluster downtime represent the largest portion of TCO. The 93 respondents in the initial study reported that their average cost per hour of downtime was $71,000. Applying this $71,000 per hour value, we found that Compaq OpenVMS clusters have the lowest TCO followed by IBM, HP, and Sun for all three classes. Compaq’s advantage over the other three manufacturers ranges from $1.7 million to $6.8 million, depending on cluster class. The following table summarizes which manufacturer offers the lowest Reliability-Adjusted TCOTM for each class at various downtime rates.

Best in Class Reliability-Adjusted TCO

 (1) Are Proprietary RISC Servers More Expensive Than Their Unix Alternatives? TechWise Research, May 1999. In this study it was shown that operational costs do not vary when server manufacturers introduce new server models, unless there is a major change to the operating system itself.

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