Posts Tagged ‘IaaS’

POWER Systems for Cloud & Linux at IBM Edge2015

April 23, 2015

In October, IBM introduced a new range of POWER systems capable of handling massive amounts of computational data faster at nearly 20 percent better price/performance than comparable Intel Xeon v3 processor-based systems, delivering to clients a superior alternative to closed, commodity-based data center servers. DancingDinosaur covered it last October here. Expect this theme to play out big at IBM

Edge2015 in Las Vegas, May 10-15. Just a sampling of a few of the many POWER sessions makes that clear:

IBM Power S824L

Courtesy of Studio Stence, Power S824L (click to enlarge)

(lCV1655) Linux on Power and Linux on Intel: Side By Side, IT Economics Positioning; presenter Susan Proietti Conti

Based on real cases studied by the IBM Eagle team for many customers in different industries and geographies, this session explains where and when Linux on Power provides a competitive alternative to Linux on Intel. The session also highlights the IT economic value of architecture choices provided by the Linux/KVM/Power stack, based on open technologies brought by POWER8 and managed through OpenStack. DancingDinosaur periodically covers studies like these here and here.

(lCV1653) Power IT Economics Advantages for Cloud Service Providers and Private Cloud Deployment; presenter Susan Proietti Conti

Since the announcement of POWER8 and building momentum of the OpenPOWER consortium, there are new reasons for cloud service providers to look at Power technology to support their offerings. As an alternative open-based technology to traditional proprietary technologies, Power offers many competitive advantages that can be leveraged for cloud service providers to deliver IaaS services and other types of service delivery. This session illustrates what Power offers by highlighting client examples and the results of IT economics studies performed for different cloud service providers.

(lSY2653) Why POWER8 Is the Platform of Choice for Linux; presenter Gary Andrews

Linux is the platform of choice for running next generation workloads. With POWER8, IBM is investing heavily into Linux and is adding major enhancements to the Power platform to make it the server of choice for running Linux workloads. This session discusses the new features and how they can help run business faster and at lower costs on the Power platform. Andrews also points out many advanced features of Linux on Power that you can’t do with Linux on x86. He shows how competitive comparisons and performance tests demonstrate that POWER8 increases the lead over x86 latest processor family. In short, attend this session to understand the competitive advantages that POWER8 on Linux can deliver compared to Linux on x86.

(pBA1244) POWER8: Built for Big Data; presenter William Starke

Starke explains how IBM technologies from semiconductors through micro-architecture, system design, system software, and database and analytic software culminate in the POWER8 family of products optimized around big data analytics workloads. He shows how the optimization across these technologies delivers order-of-magnitude improvements via several example scenarios.

 (pPE1350) Best Practices Guide to Get Maximum Performance from IBM POWER8; presenter Archana Ravindar

This session presents a set of best practices that have been tried and tested in various application domains to get the maximum performance of an application on a POWER8 processor. Performance improvement can be gained at various levels: the system level, where system parameters can be tuned; the application level, where some parameters can be tuned as there is no one-size-fits-all scenario; and the compiler level, where options for every kind of application have shown to improve performance. Some options are unique to IBM and give an edge over competition in gaming applications. In cases where applications are still under development, Ravindar presents guidelines to ensure the code runs fastest on Power.

DancingDinosaur supports strategies that enable data centers to reuse existing resources like this one. (pCV2276) Developing a POWERful Cloud Strategy; presenter, Susan Schreitmueller

Here you get to examine decision points for how and when to use an existing Power infrastructure in a cloud environment. This session covers on-premises and off-premises, single vs. multi-tenant hosting, and security concerns. You also review IaaS, PaaS, and hybrid cloud solutions incorporating existing assets into a cloud infrastructure. Discover provisioning techniques to go from months to days and then to hours for new instances.

One session DancingDinosaur hasn’t found yet is whether it is less costly for an enterprise to virtualize a couple of thousand Linux virtual machines on one of the new IBM Power servers pictured above or on the z13 as an Enterprise Linux server purchased under the System z Solution Edition Program. Hmm, will have to ask around about that. But either way you’d end up with very low cost VMs compared to x86.

Of course, save time for the free evening entertainment. In addition to Penn & Teller, a pair of magicians, and rocker Grace Potter, here, there will be a weird but terrific group, 2Cellos as well.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran IT analyst and writer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing on Technologywriter.com and here. Please join DancingDinosaur at IBM Edge2015. You will find me hanging out wherever people gather around available power outlets to recharge mobile devices.

The Future of IBM Lies in the Cloud

March 13, 2014

In her annual letter to stockholders IBM CEO Virginia Rometty made it clear that the world is being forever altered by the explosion of digital data and by the advent of the cloud. So, she intends IBM to “remake the enterprise IT infrastructure for the era of cloud.” This where she is leading IBM.

DancingDinosaur thinks she has it right. But where does that leave this blog, which was built on the System z, Power Systems, and IBM’s enterprise systems? Hmm.

Rometty has an answer for that buried far down in her letter. “We are accelerating the move of our Systems product portfolio—in particular, Power and storage—to growth opportunities and to Linux, following the lead of our successful mainframe business. “

The rapidly emerging imperatives of big data, cloud computing, and mobile/social require enterprise-scale computing in terms of processing power, capacity, availability, security, and all the other ities that have long been the hallmark of the mainframe and IBM’s other enterprise class systems. She goes so far as to emphasize that point:  “Let me be clear—we are not exiting hardware. IBM will remain a leader in high-performance and high-end systems, storage and cognitive computing, and we will continue to invest in R&D for advanced semiconductor technology.”

You can bet that theme will be continued at the upcoming Edge 2014 conference May 19-23 in Las Vegas. The conference will include an Executive program, a Technical program with 550 expert technical sessions across 14 tracks, and a partner program. It’s being billed as an infrastructure innovation event and promises a big storage component too. Expect to see a lot of FlashSystems and XIV, which has a new pay-as-you-go pricing program that will make it easy to get into XIV and scale it fast as you need it. You’ll probably also encounter some other new go-to-market strategies for storage.

As far as getting to the cloud, IBM has been dropping billions to build out about as complete a cloud stack as you can get.  SoftLayer, the key piece, was just the start. BlueMix, an implementation of IBM’s Open Cloud Architecture, leverages Cloud Foundry to enable developers to rapidly build, deploy, and manage their cloud applications while tapping a growing ecosystem of available services and runtime frameworks, many of which are open source. IBM will provide services and runtimes into the ecosystem based on its already extensive and rapidly expanding software portfolio. BlueMix is the IBM PaaS offering that compliments SoftLayer, its IaaS offering. Cloudant, the most recent acquisition, brings database as a service (DBaaS) to the stack. And don’t forget IBM Wave for z/VM, which virtualizes and manages Linux VMs, a critical cloud operation for sure. With this conglomeration of capabilities IBM is poised to offer something cloud-like to just about any organization. Plus, tying WebSphere and its other middleware products to SoftLayer bolsters the cloud stack that much more.

And don’t think IBM is going to stop here. DancingDinosaur expects to see more acquisitions, particularly when it comes to hybrid clouds and what IBM calls systems of engagement. Hybrid clouds, for IBM, link systems of engagement—built on mobile and social technologies where consumers are engaging with organizations—with systems of record, the main workloads of the System z and Power Systems, where data and transactions are processed.

DancingDinosaur intends to be at Edge 2014 where it expects to see IBM detailing a lot of its new infrastructure and demonstrating how to use it. You can register for Edge 2014 here until April 20 and grab a discount.

Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter: @mainframeblog

Goodbye X6 and IBM System x

January 24, 2014

Seems just last week IBM was touting the new X6-based systems, the latest in its x86 System x server lineup.  Now the X6 and the entire System x line is going to Lenovo, which will acquire IBM’s x86 server business.  Rumors had been circulating about the sale for the last year, so often that you stopped paying attention to them.

The sale includes System x, BladeCenter and Flex System blade servers and switches, x86-based Flex integrated systems, NeXtScale and iDataPlex servers and associated software, and blade networking and maintenance operations. The purchase price is approximately US $2.3 billion, about two billion of which will be paid in cash and the balance in Lenovo stock.

Definitely NOT part of the sale are the System z, Power Systems, Storage Systems, Power-based Flex servers, and PureApplication and PureData appliances.  These are considered part of the IBM Enterprise Systems portfolio.  This commitment to the z and other enterprise systems is encouraging, especially in light of the latest IBM quarterly financial statement in which all the system hardware platforms did poorly, including System x.

DancingDinosaur’s planned follow up to last week’s X6 column in anticipation of a reported upcoming February briefing on X6 speeds and feeds is now unlikely. IBM pr folks said no such briefing is planned.

Most of the System x team appears to be departing with the products. Approximately 7,500 IBM employees around the world, including those based at major locations such as Raleigh, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Taipei, are expected to be offered employment by Lenovo, according to the announcement.

IBM, however, may become more active than ever.  Recently, IBM announced that it will invest more than $1 billion in the new IBM Watson Group, and $1.2 billion to expand its global cloud computing footprint to 40 data centers worldwide in 15 countries across five continents.  It also announced bolstering the SoftLayer operation, sort of a combined IaaS and global content delivery network, plus earlier investments in Linux, OpenStack, and various other initiatives. DancingDinosaur will try to follow it for you along with the System z and other enterprise IBM platforms.

 Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter: @mainframeblog

Red Hat Summit Challenges IBM and zEnterprise

June 29, 2012

The Red Hat Summit in Boston this week showed off a slew of new products, some of which are sure to challenge IBM although none included hardware. As for the zEnterprise there was little beyond RHEL specifically aimed its way.

Although IBM has a long relationship with Red Hat, it is becoming clear that in some cases the two companies compete.  Despite moments of discomfort, IBM managers still are generally amenable to working closely with Red Hat. Coopetition, a mix of cooperation and competition, increasingly is the norm for all technology companies, not just IBM and Red Hat.  Both companies, for instance, have a strong interest in promoting KVM, which provides a low price hypervisor option. But as one IBM manager noted, price is only a door opener for a bigger discussion.  From that bigger discussion, IBM still holds more and stronger cards when it comes to delivering a complete customer solution.

The centerpiece of the conference was Red Hat’s announcement of four open hybrid solutions; hybrid here refers to the blend of public and private clouds. Find the announcement here. The four open hybrid cloud solutions consist of:

  • OpenShift Enterprise PaaS Solution combines Red Hat CloudForms, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and JBoss Enterprise Middleware. It aims to deliver the speed and agility of PaaS desired by enterprise developers while addressing the governance and operational requirements of enterprise IT in an open and hybrid cloud.
  • Red Hat Hybrid Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Solution, described by Red Hat as the industry’s first open hybrid cloud solution for enterprises, it includes the software needed to deploy and manage a hybrid cloud, including virtualization management with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization; cloud management, governed self-service and systems management with Red Hat CloudForms; and guest operating system with Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
  • Red Hat Cloud with Virtualization Bundle, promises to move enterprises to the cloud for the price of virtualization and consists of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and Red Hat CloudForms, effectively combining virtualization and cloud management into the same project cycle.
  • Red Hat Storage, a software-only offering provides open source scale-out storage software for the management of unstructured data.  It is generally available with Red Hat Storage Server 2.0 today but the company has big ambitions for this.

All the above are software-only solutions. Red Hat is not getting into either the server or storage hardware business. Of these, the OpenShift PaaS product, which promises an easy on-ramp to open hybrid cloud computing with reduced complexity, sounds a little like IBM PureSystems and particularly the IBM PureSystems PureApplication System, which provides a fully integrated  hardware/software PaaS offering in a box.

Red Hat Storage, which is built around Red Hat’s recent Gluster acquisition, an open source software company that maintained GlusterFS, an open source, distributed file system capable of scaling to petabytes and beyond while handling thousands of clients. GlusterFS brings together storage building blocks over an Infiniband, RDMA, or TCP/IP interconnects to aggregate disk and memory resources and manage data within a single global namespace.

GlusterFS supports standard clients running standard applications over any standard IP network.  Red Hat’s GlusterFS gives users the ability to deploy scale-out, virtualized storage through a centrally managed and commoditized pool of storage while freeing them from monolithic legacy storage platforms.

The poster child for Red Hat Storage today is Pandora, which delivers music on demand over the net. Pandora put Red Hat Storage across 100 NAS nodes, producing what amounts to NAS in the cloud.  Where organizations have IBM storage, Red Hat Storage will virtualize and manage it as it does any other storage.

The most interesting discussion DancingDinosaur had revolved around Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). RHEL has experienced generally steady growth, and the RHEL team is cocky enough to target selected Microsoft workloads to drive further growth.  RHEL appears to be a dominant Linux distribution everywhere but on the z. Among z shops running Linux,  RHEL is treading water at around 33% share. SUSE is the dominant Linux distribution on z.  Given the upheaval SUSE has experienced you’d expect the zEnterprise to be a RHEL growth opportunity, especially with growing interest in multi-platform hybrid computing involving the z. Red Hat clearly needs to pay more attention to the z.

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.

SaaS and the IBM System z

May 10, 2010

A year ago Mac Devine, IBM Distinguished Engineer, extolled the virtues of the mainframe as the foundation for a SaaS strategy. Since then a slew of z cloud initiatives by IBM along with enhancements to WebSphere and the System z and the growing embrace of SaaS by ever more vendors only reinforce Devine’s message. The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Showplace, an independent online directory of SaaS products, reports over 1300 organizations now have SaaS offerings.

Devine outlined the case for SaaS on the z in a presentation at SHARE last year, the SaaS-y Mainframe—Cloud Computing with System z.  The core of the System z SaaS pitch, as stated at SHARE a year ago: Mainframes, as consolidation engines, are uniquely designed to virtualize and share everything—hardware, network, I/O, you name it—taking on the equivalent of hundreds or even thousands of servers workloads. Multi-tenancy, a core SaaS requirement, is baked into the DNA of the mainframe by default, which makes it particularly valuable for organizations re-architecting existing applications to deliver as a service.

Veteran mainframe data center managers were baffled when SaaS, ASPs (application service providers) and MSPs (managed service providers) first appeared on the scene years ago. That’s what they had been doing for years, for decades, they would tell me. Only, it wasn’t called that then. How is it any different from time sharing, they would ask.

Conceptually it isn’t very different. However, three things make it different enough: 1) the emergence of the Internet as a ubiquitous connecting fabric that everyone can use; 2) the browser as the universal client; and 3) the advent of services and service orientation. Previously monolithic code is now extracted as identifiable services and made accessible over the Internet via the browser following a requester-responder model.

Transzap, an online financial processor, remains IBM’s System z poster child for SaaS. The company handles payables, invoicing, and spend analysis through an Oracle database running as a service in a virtualized Linux on z environment. In 2009, the company handled 58 million customer transactions that way. You can check out their story here.

CA also has jumped into the mainframe SaaS game but from a completely different angle. CA wants to sell outsourced mainframe management to z shops as a contracted service. Their pitch is here.  CA really is offering not SaaS but managed services more like MSPs offered a decade or more ago.  Good luck.

IBM’s mainframe SaaS strategy envisions the mainframe as the center of SaaS offerings based on mainframe functionality delivered as sets of services. The goal is to enable IT to provide selected mainframe capabilities as online services and generate new revenue for the company. In effect, IT becomes what IBM refers to as rainmakers, using mainframe assets delivered as SaaS.

Are mainframe managers ready to think this way? Some certainly are. What mainframe data or functionality will your organization’s customers or new customers be willing to pay for?

In truth, the System z is well positioned to capitalize on the as-a-service phenomenon. The System z is multi-tenant to the max, which is critical to play the as-a-service game. Not only can it deliver SaaS data and functionality but also PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) and IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service). And it doesn’t take much to do this if you already have a z in place. Linux on z, WebSphere on z, and z/VM get you started.


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