z10 Delivers IBM’s Project Green and ECM

Virtualization is the key to IBM’s Enterprise Computing Model (ECM), and the System z is very good at that. The z196 should be even better, but when IBM set out several years ago to eliminate thousands of servers through its Project Green initiative, which exemplifies ECM, the z10 was the best play it had.

IBM’s ECM revolves around virtualization and consolidation, IT service management, and cloud computing. The combination of these is intended to transform the business. To date, the best example of ECM in action may be IBM’s own Project Green initiative, a mainframe case study if ever there was one.

In September 2007, Robert Braddock, VP for IBM’s Global Infrastructure Services and in charge of IBM’s own IT infrastructure account, presented the company’s efforts, as a major transformation initiative with the goal, at that time, of consolidating 3900 servers onto approximately 30 System z machines. The consolidated systems would reduce energy consumption by 80%, lower software licensing and support costs, and reduce the amount of real estate required.

From 1997 until 2007 IBM had reduced the number of CIO’s from 128 to 1, host data centers from 155 to 7, web hosting centers from 80 to 5, and 15,000 applications to 4700. Much of those consolidated workloads were moved to Linux on z. The savings, according to Braddock, amounted to $1 billion each year.

Jump forward to Feb. 2011 when John Adams, IBM’s ECM and Cloud implementation leader, updated the Project Green effort. By then IBM reported eliminating 5000 servers through virtualization and consolidation. Of those, 3900 servers are running as virtual Linux on z. The effort has saved 20k MWh of energy, enough, says Adams, to power a small town for a year, and freed up 47,000 sq. ft. of floor space.

In 2009, IBM had internal IT workloads running at 377 sites. It has consolidated 15% of those to date. The goal is to get down to just three global strategic IT sites, 19 special purpose sites, and 27 Notes sites. Although the bulk of the workloads are going to the System z some will run on IBM’s p and x systems based on fit-for-purpose and service requirements determinations.

One IBM platform apparently not in the mix, at least not yet, is the z196. This has been primarily a z10, Linux on z play. A z196 team member told DancingDinosaur a few months ago that IBM was running a z196 for testing and development but hadn’t yet put one into production use. Based on the performance and capacity specs already published on the z196, it should be able to virtualize even more workloads. When connected to the zBX with Power and x blades, it should do even better and at lower cost per workload.

Still, if you look at IBM’s Project Green and its ECM as a z10 case the results are impressive. More importantly, however, are some lessons an organization can learn from IBM’s results. The first being which consolidation strategy to follow: location, environment, application, or technology.

Most organizations will decide based on the environment, application, or technology involved. For example, you might consolidate all distributed Linux systems on the z or consolidate all web hosting on the z. IBM used these strategies at various times.

But the location strategy delivered the biggest payback. The other strategies produce what Adams refers to as Swiss cheese racks where some systems have been removed but others remain, leaving the entire rack in place.

However, if you target a location and consolidate, virtualize, or eliminate every system there you can remove entire racks, freeing up large amounts of floor space. Then just return the leased space and shut off the power. The lesson: you don’t get as big a payback consolidating and virtualizing servers in onesies and twosies.

Another lesson is the way IBM deployed virtualized software to get the biggest savings. By deploying Linux on z under z/VM it had to pay a license fee for each LPAR but each guest running the software within the LPAR ran at no additional charge.  The lesson here: it pays to plan which virtualized software you deploy under which LPAR.

There is more IT shops can learn from IBM’s Project Green and ECM beyond how best to go about consolidating and virtualizing on z, p, and x.

 

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