IBM Power Systems – What We Talk About When We Talk About Cloud

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  August 7, 2018

Because something is commonplace doesn’t mean it is well understood. That point can apply to a laundry list of everyday events and activities but in the world of enterprise computing, it’s especially resonant regarding cloud computing.

Why is that important? Because cloud offers approaches to computing services and service provisioning that are both unconventional and potentially valuable to business organizations, especially enterprises. That’s become clear as larger companies increasingly choose private and hybrid clouds over the public services some cloud evangelists claim will eventually overtake and replace traditional IT.

It’s also important to understand these distinctions when considering new solutions, like IBM’s latest Power Systems servers that are designed to optimally support private and hybrid cloud and address the most stringent needs of the company’s enterprise customers.

Cloud differences

What makes cloud different from commonplace hosted services? For the customer, it’s mainly about ease of access and use. Rather than going through often lengthy paperwork and budgetary processes, a business user or group signs onto a cloud site, chooses the appropriate service, arranges payment and gets to work.

As is often the case in other instances, making services “easy to use” for consumers means hard work on the backend. In the case of cloud computing, that translates into robust server, storage and networking platforms supported with automated virtualization and systems management tools. If this all sounds like the “on demand” and “utility” computing scenarios that IT vendors envisioned in the mid- to late-1990s, it should.

So, what’s the deal with private and hybrid cloud, and how do those approaches differ from public cloud platform? In short, private cloud applies cloud-style virtualization and systems management tools to IT platforms and infrastructures that reside within companies’ data centers. As a result, employees can access employer-owned systems as easily as they would a public cloud and consume services whenever and however they choose. Hybrid clouds take this model a step further by commonly supporting applications, workloads and data in both private and public clouds.

Why would organizations choose private or hybrid solutions public clouds? That depends, but it often hinges on security or privacy concerns (in the former case) or using cloud SPs to support compute/data redundancy and back-up processes (in the latter).

The primary point is that many businesses, especially larger enterprises, understand the significant value of simplified compute access, provisioning, consumption and management. Increasingly, they see private and hybrid cloud as ways to effectively and sustainably achieve those benefits. Those are the customers IBM is aiming to engage with its new Power Systems offerings.

IBM’s Power Systems E950 and E980

What makes the new Power Systems solutions worth considering? First, the Power Systems E950 and E980 are based on IBM’s latest generation POWER9 processors which offer 2X more threads and up to 1.8X more memory bandwidth than competing x86-based systems. Couple that with the systems’ expansive memory capacity (up to 16TB in the E950 and up to 64TB in the E980), and the new servers can support virtually any enterprise-class application or workload, including demanding analytics and in-memory database solutions, such as SAP HANA or IBM’s Db2.

IBM has also integrated powerful tools that enable the servers to support a wide range of private and hybrid cloud applications and use cases. For example, PowerVM, IBM Power Systems hypervisor, allows system memory and compute to be dynamically allocated and scaled on demand, according to changing business or facilities requirements.

In addition, IBM’s OpenStack-based cloud manager, PowerVC, takes the complexity out of managing consumption-based infrastructures, making private clouds as easy to access and deal with as public cloud services. Plus, PowerVC can upwardly integrate with heterogeneous cloud management platforms, like VMware’s vRealize Suite and IBM Cloud Private, enabling the new systems to be easily incorporated into hybrid cloud environments.

Finally, IBM pushes ease of access/consumption boundaries even further with Power Systems E950 and E980 solutions by providing optional access to its Capacity on Demand capabilities. That allows organizations that experience unpredictable changes in workload demands to add processor and memory capacity almost instantly and pay only for what they use. The practical result for Power Systems owners is an infrastructure that can flexibly adapt to virtually any user needs without compromising compute requirements.

Final analysis

With its new E950 and E980 offerings, IBM is delivering solutions that combine the seamless performance, reliability and scalability that Power Systems are renowned for with capabilities that meet enterprises’ exacting standards for cloud computing. Those cloud implementations can support any design, from private to hybrid to public that customers require. Additionally, IBM’s Capacity on Demand features ensure that organizations with unpredictable or unusual IT requirements will always have necessary IT assets at their disposal.

In essence, IBM’s new Power Systems E950 and E980 solutions turn “either/or” IT services and solutions on their heads by offering enterprise customers the cloud and compute resources they need wherever, whenever and however they prefer.

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