Abacus Puts The i In VIOS With Screaming Power 720 Setup
May 14, 2012 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Two things were made abundantly clear to me as I walked around the COMMON conference and expo last week, attending sessions and talking with people and listening to their complaints. The first is that just about everyone, even die-hard techies, are annoyed with the AIX-derived Virtual I/O Server that is used to virtualize disk and network drivers on Power Systems. The second thing was that we all better get used to it, because VIOS is here to stay.
If you don’t want to cope with setting up VIOS on an IBM i or hybrid IBM i-AIX box with maybe a little Linux thrown in for spice, then the techies at IBM i cloud provider Abacus Solutions have ginned up a screaming Power 720 box packed with lots of disk and flash drives that it says it can offer for substantially less than an IBM configuration using a mix of internal storage and Storwize V7000 arrays from IBM.
The “IBM i in VIOS” configuration, as the company calls it, comes with VIOS already pretuned for a mix of IBM i and AIX partitions, so you don’t have to do any work. The base box, which you can see at the top of the rack to the left, is a Power 720 server with eight Power7 cores and 64 GB of main memory. The machine has one logical partition with eight 177 GB solid state disk drives, which are in the Power 720 chassis itself and which is designed to hold the hot data for your applications. The second logical partition is configured through VIOS to talk to a storage enclosure that has 18 of IBM’s 139.5 GB 15K SAS drives, which Abacus calls a “heritage partition” and which is used for storing colder data.
But wait, that’s not all you get. If you want to add more logical partitions, Abacus is also throwing in a Nexsan E-Series SAN array, which has 18 600 GB SAS drives that provides around 50,000 IOPS of aggregate disk performance. In this particular configuration shown at COMMON, there were two VIOS partitions and another two AIX partitions and two IBM i partitions that ran off the Nexsan array. VIOS is configured so any of the partitions can push archiving out to a tape backup, which share a dual-port Fibre Channel adapter across VIOS. The Nexsan arrays also include replication features, which allows customers to do disk-to-disk replication in the arrays over geographical distances, which a number of cloud customers in the Marietta and Atlanta data centers at Abacus do.
An all-IBM setup with just 7TB of total disk would cost you around $200,000, says Patrick Schutz, director of managed services and support at Abacus, and the IBM i in VIOS setup above is anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 less than what that all-IBM setup would cost you. “The more expansion you have, the more sense it makes to do this,” says Schutz.