Posts Tagged ‘PureFlex’

Late 2012 zEnterprise Action

January 1, 2013

In a flurry of December activity, IBM announced the German manufacturer, ARBURG GmbH, upgraded to two z114 machines. In addition, a pair of Australian companies, Tonkin Consulting and Harris Farm Market, jumped on the PureSystems bandwagon.

It’s particularly nice to see IBM PureSystems gaining traction.  These are hybrid expert systems that can significantly lower the cost of a company’s IT. As for the z114, it has been a bargain since it was introduced.  DancingDinosuar expects a similar low end model of the zEC12 to come out sometime in 2013.

Let’s start by looking at ARBURG, which upgraded to a pair of zEnterprise 114 machines to drive down costs and accelerate its time-to-market. In the process it also wanted to improve customer satisfaction but without compromising on product quality. Specifically, it needed to make better use of the large amounts of data generated daily across its core business areas—development, procurement, production, sales, and services. ARBURG runs the two z114 machines with IBM System Storage DS8800, IBM DB2, and IBM Tivoli Monitoring solutions to support its SAP application environment.

The payback will come fast: reduced energy consumption by 80%. Likewise, implementing the IBM System Storage DS8800 storage cut power consumption for zEnterprise disk storage by 25%, according to the company. In addition, ARBURG runs applications on IBM System x servers with IBM SVC and Storwize V7000 systems. By consolidating on IBM System x servers with virtualization, ARBURG shrunk its number of physical servers by more than 50% and lowered energy requirements by 60%. The company also expects to leverage IBM Easy Tier technology built into the Storwize V7000 to automatically migrate data between spinning drives and SSDs dynamically, moving the most-accessed data to SSDs for better performance and the less-used data to lower-priced, standard drives.

ARBURG would like to grow its SAP environment gradually, avoiding the need to frequently invest in new hardware, thereby saving even more money, minimizing complexity, and maximizing performance. Long term the company plans to use SAP on the IBM technology platform to optimize processes and improve transparency and quality, which it expects will lead to shorter development cycles and reduced time-to-market.

The Aussies took the PureSystems route. Tonkin Consulting, an engineering, environmental and spatial consulting practice, is replacing its existing HP switching hardware and servers with IBM PureFlex. The new system will be the core component of the firm’s new enterprise-wide IT strategy to address its future needs and growth. It opted for the integrated PureFlex System for its a highly automated, simple-to-manage system. It also chose the integrated v7000 storage as well as additional IBM system networking, system x and tape storage products. The company expects the new system to significantly reduce IT costs, potentially halving management costs overall, while dramatically increasing its ability to rapidly scale operations up and down. Additionally, the technology will enable Tonkin to quickly create and deploy a private cloud, which will enable disaster recovery for its offices in South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Harris Farm Markets opted for an IBM Flex System to help support its business growth and reduce IT costs and complexity. It expects Flex to significantly boost the performance of its critical systems, especially its enterprise resource (ERP) system. The IBM Flex System deployment underpins a broader IT strategy intended to support Harris Farm’s continuing growth for at least ten years. As part of its emphasis on scalable efficiency, the strategy will reduce Harris Farm’s data footprint by up to 80% through real-time data compression; and optimize application performance using IBM’s Easy-tier functionality. The customized Flex System will include an IBM Flex System Enterprise Chassis; two IBM Compute nodes; and an IBM Storwize V7000 storage system. The Flex System will replace Harris Farm’s existing IBM systems and is expected to be delivered by mid-January 2013.

Let’s hope these late 2012 wins are good signs for 2013.

IBM PureData Brings New Analytics Platform

October 18, 2012

IBM finally has started to expand its PureSystems family of systems with the introduction of the PureData System.  The system promises to let organizations more efficiently manage and quickly analyze petabytes of data and then intelligently apply those insights in addressing business issues across their organization.

This is not a surprise. From the start, IBM talked about a family of PureSystems beyond the initial PureFlex and PureApplications. When the PureSystems family was introduced last spring, DancingDinosaur expected IBM to quickly add new expert servers starting with something it guessed would be called PureAnalytics and maybe another called PureTransactions.  PureData isn’t that far off. The new systems are being optimized specifically for transactional operations and data analytics workloads.

Specifically, PureData System for Transactions has been integrated and optimized as a ready-to-run database platform designed and tuned specifically for transactional data workloads. It supports both DB2 applications unchanged and Oracle database applications with only minimal changes. The machines come as three workload-specific models optimized either for transactional, operational, and big data analytics. They are:

  • PureData System for Transactions: Aimed at retail and credit card processing environments that depend on rapid handling of transactions and interactions these transactions may be small, but the volume and frequency require fast and efficient processing. The new system provides hardware and software configurations integrated and optimized for flexibility, integrity, availability and scalability for any transaction workload.
  • PureData System for Analytics: Enables organizations to quickly and easily analyze and explore big data, up to multi petabytes in volume. The new system simplifies and optimizes performance of data warehouse services and analytics applications. Powered by Netezza technology (in-memory analytics), the new system aims to accelerate analytics and boasts what IBM describes as the largest library of in-database analytic functions on the market today. Organizations can use it to predict and avoid customer churn in seconds, create targeted advertising and promotions using predictive and spatial analysis, and prevent fraud.
  • PureData System for Operational Analytics: Here organizations can receive actionable insights concurrently on more than 1,000 business operations to support real-time decision making. Operational warehouse systems are used for fraud detection during credit card processing, to deliver customer insights to call center operations (while the customer is still on the call or online), and track and predict real-time changes in supply and demand.

All the systems include PureSystems pattern-based expertise and automation. From a configuration standpoint, the full rack system can be pretty rich: 386 x86 processor cores, 6.2 TB DRAM, 19.2 TB flash (SSD), 128 TB disk (HDD), advanced storage tiering, up to 10x compression, a high speed RDMA interconnect, and dual internal 10 GB network links. Systems, however, can range from 96 cores to 386 cores. IBM reports early customer results of 10-100x faster performance over traditional custom-built systems and 20x greater concurrency and throughput for tactical queries resulting, in part, from IBM’s patented MPP hardware acceleration.

IBM hasn’t disclosed pricing, which is highly subject to the particular configuration anyway. However, the company is quick to tout its introductory deals: Credit-qualified clients that elect IBM financing can see immediate benefits with PureData System by deferring their first payment until January 2013 or obtaining a zero percent (interest-free) loan for 12, 24 or 36 months.

PureData may be better thought of as a data appliance delivering data services fed by applications that generate the data and reside elsewhere. With its factory built-in expertise, patterns, and appliance nature organizations can have, according to IBM, a PureData system up and running in hours, not days or weeks; run complex analytics in minutes, not hours; and handle more than 100 databases on a single system. PureData can be deployed in one step simply by specifying the cluster name, description, and applicable topology pattern. Built-in expertise handles the rest.

Now the game is to guess what the next PureSystems expert server will be. DancingDinosaur’s guess: a highly scalable implementation of VDI, maybe called PureDesktop.

IBM Hybrid Computing Choices

June 18, 2012

Enterprises now have a choice of IBM hybrid computing options, the zEnterprise/zBX and IBM PureSystems. Since the introduction of the zEnterprise in 2010 along with the zBX there is a zEnterprise option that now encompasses z/OS, Linux on z, z/VM, Power blades, AIX, Linux, System x blades, Windows, and specialty blades.  You can manage the resulting hybrid platform as one hybrid virtualized system through the Unified Resource Manager. About the only thing missing is i.

Today there are two PureSystems options: PureFlex, an IaaS offering, and PureApplication, a PaaS offering. IBM implies that more PureSystems will be coming. PureSystems brings System i to the hybrid party along with Power and System x but skips z/OS and z/VM. You manage this hybrid environment with the Flex System Manager (FSM), which looks very similar to the zEnterprise’s Unified Resource Manager. DancingDinosaur previously covered the PureSystems introduction here.

The challenge becomes choosing between two IBM hybrid computing environments that look very similar but aren’t quite the same.  So, which do you use?

Obviously, if you need z/OS, you go with the zEnterprise. It provides the optimum platform for enterprise computing with its extreme scalability and leading security and resiliency. It supports tens of thousands of users while new offerings expand the z role in BI and real time analytics, especially if much of the data reside on the z.

If you must include i you go with the PureFlex. Or, if you find you have a hybrid workload but don’t require the governance and tight integration with the z, you can choose IBM PureFlex and connect it to the zEnterprise via your existing network. Tivoli products can provide the integration of business processes.

If you look at your choice of hybrid computing environments in terms of cost, PureSystems probably will cost less, how much less depends on how it is configured. The entry PureFlex starts at $156k; the standard version, which includes storage and networking, starts at $217k; and the Enterprise version, intended for scalable cloud deployment and included redundancy for resilient operation, starts at $312k. Plus there is the cost of the O/S and hypervisor (open source KVM is free).

The zEnterprise option will cost more but maybe not all that much more depending on how you configure it, whether you can take advantage of the System z Solution Edition packages, and how well you negotiate. The lowest cost zEnterprise-zBX hybrid environment includes the z114 ($75k base price but expect to pay more once it is configured), about $200k or more for a zBX, depending on the type and number of blades, plus whatever you need for storage.

The payback from hybrid computing comes mainly from the operational efficiency and labor savings it allows. PureSystems especially come pre-integrated and optimized for the workload and is packed with built-in management expertise and automation that allow fewer, less skilled people to handle the hybrid computing environment. (Watch for an upcoming white paper on hybrid computing from Independent Assessment, the developer and publisher of DancingDinosaur.)

Right now the wrinkle in the hybrid computing management efficiency story comes from organizations that want both the zEnterprise and PureSystems. This would not be an odd pairing at all, but it will require two different management tools, Flex System Manager for the PureSystems environment and the Unified Resource Manager for the zEnterprise-zBX. At a recent briefing an IBM manager noted that discussions already were underway to bring the two management schemes together although when and how that actually might happen he couldn’t say. Let’s hope it is sooner rather than later.

IBM PureSystems Hint at the Future of zEnterprise

April 16, 2012

IBM’s April 11 announcement of PureSystems family of products was focused on POWER and x86 systems. A closer look, however, suggests the initiative both leveraged some of the advances of the zEnterprise and zBX and hints at extending the PureSystems approach to the zEnterprise.

To summarize, PureSystems is the name IBM is giving to a family of integrated appliances. These combine physical and virtual server, storage, and network hardware in the form of POWER and Hx5 blades with the appropriate middleware and software to deliver a system that is fast, flexible, and simple to deploy and maintain.

The first two products in the family are PureFlex, which provides Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), and PureApplication, which provides Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).  The clear implication is that more PureSystems are on the way. Don’t be surprised to see something like PureAnalytics, maybe followed by something like PureTransaction.

For the introduction, IBM pulled out a couple of its biggest guns. Said Steve Mills, IBM senior vice president of software and systems: “By tightening the connections between hardware and software, and adding software know-how, PureSystems is designed to help organizations free up time and money to focus on innovation.”

PureSystems, however, is not the typical appliance most vendors deliver by repackaging existing technology and wrapping it up in a spiffy interface. PureSystems was designed and engineered from the ground up to deliver flexibility, simplicity of operation, efficiency, and lower cost.

Rod Adkins, senior vice president in charge of IBM’s Systems and Technology Group, called it “a new category of business computing that combines server, storage and networking resources along with an array of built-in software patterns and business processes into one highly automated and simple-to-manage machine.” IBM’s goal was to change the economics of IT by addressing the issues of time, cost, and risk.

The PureSystem device arrives private cloud capable. It is thoroughly integrated, automated, and optimized using an extensive set of patterns that encapsulate the best hardware, software, deployment, and management practices. Plus, it offers a facility to pull in third-party patterns or add your own custom patterns.

IBM expects PureSystems can shift organizations from where today they spend 70% or more of their IT budget just keeping the systems running to where they can direct more than half their budget to new initiatives. To that end, IBM initiated an approach it calls scale-in design, which provides for increased density (PureSystems can handle twice as many applications compared to previous IBM blade systems), effectively doubling the computing power per square foot of data center space through the use of expert automation, optimization, and virtualization, and then packaging it at an attractive price. The entry level PureFlex is priced at $100,000 and is sufficiently configured for a midsize organization.

IBM estimates that a PureSystems machine can be running in four hours, one-third the time of earlier IBM blade technology.  If IT did it from piece parts figure on taking weeks or months. IBM calculates PureSystems requires 47% less deployment labor hours and 73% fewer management hours versus conventional systems.

From the standpoint of zEnterprise shops, key innovations—especially the optimization and expert patterns—will likely be incorporated into the next zEnterprise release.  The expert patterns may finally address persistent concerns about replacing retiring z veterans and the loss of mainframe experience.

Also of interest to zEnterprise shops will be the design of the new PureSystems devices. They clearly borrow from the zBX and the zEnterprise hybrid ensemble, including its ability to manage a combined physical/virtual hybrid environment from a single console. They don’t call it the Unified Resource Manager but they could have. Today PureSystems and the hybrid zEnterprise are close cousins. Expect them to grow even closer in the future.


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