Google Launches Power Systems Cloud, But Not Yet for IBM i
January 22, 2020 Alex Woodie
Google last week officially unveiled IBM Power Systems for Google Cloud, a new infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offering that will allow customers to run AIX, Linux, and IBM i workloads and manage it from their familiar Google Cloud accounts. Google says that AIX and Linux are ready to go, but says that IBM i customers will have to wait just a little longer to get in on the cloud action.
The general availability of IBM Power Systems on Google Cloud has been years in the making. Google was one of the earliest enrollees in IBM’s Open Power initiative, and adopted Power8 motherboards way back in 2014. Then in 2018, IBM i Chief Architect Steve Will teased POWERUp attendees with news that Google was developing an IaaS cloud offering that featured Power Systems servers. And in 2019, Google engineers openly talked about the forthcoming offering, dubbed “IBM Power Systems for Google Cloud,” which would be available via the Google Cloud Marketplace.
Last week, (almost) all of the pieces came together when Google formally announced the launch of its IBM Power Systems for Google Cloud offering. Assuming the underlying infrastructure has not changed substantially from nine months ago, when Google engineers pitched the offering at the Google Next conference, the offering will run on Power Systems S922 servers running in US-East 4, a Google Cloud data center in Northern Virginia. The plan calls for carving up those servers into slices of IBM i, AIX, and “bring your own Linux” using the PowerVM hypervisor.
While Google formally launched IBM Power Systems for Google Cloud, it’s still not fully available. “IBM i is not yet supported,” Andy Waddell, a technical program manager with Google Cloud, told IT Jungle via email. “We plan on rolling it out in the first half of this year.”
This is a third-party offering made through the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) Marketplace. That means that IBM will be responsible for maintaining all the hardware, firmware, and system software in the Google data center. The customer, meanwhile, will be responsible for maintaining everything from the operating system on up. That means that IBM will apply firmware updates, but it’s the customer’s job to apply operating systems PTFs and to run backups.
Customers who sign up for IBM Power Systems for Google Cloud will be able to grow and shrink their IBM Power environments as needed via three different mechanisms, including a Web console, an API, and a command line interface. They will be able to manage their IBM Power environments the same way they manage their Linux- and Windows-based X86 applications workloads they run on Google Cloud (yes, the Google Cloud does support Windows).
According to details of the Power offering shared by Google Cloud, a “starter cloud” will include 16 Power cores, 160GB of RAM, and 12TB of storage on a shared machine. This configuration will support a maximum of 24 VMs. The maximum number of dedicated cores a customer can get is six, which is also the maximum number of dedicated cores that customers can assign to a single VM. Pricing for this configuration starts at $7,500 per month, which isn’t cheap (but Google says that discounts will be offered for customers who commit to longer periods).
Power Systems on Google Cloud makes for an ideal hybrid computing strategy that combines the best of both cloud and on-premise worlds, says Kevin Ichhpurani, Google Cloud corporate vice president of global ecosystem.
“You can run enterprise workloads like SAP and Oracle on the IBM Power servers that you’ve come to trust, while starting to take advantage of all the technical capabilities and favorable economics that Google Cloud offers,” Ichhpurani writes in a post on the Google Cloud blog published last week.
One of the differentiating features of the IBM Power Systems on Google Cloud is the private network connectivity back into Google Cloud Platform, which Google says it has never made available to a partner before offering it to IBM and Power Systems. This networking capability will make it easier for IBM customers to integrate their data and applications in a secure manner with other assets, whether they’re GCP applications like BigQuery or Cloud Dataproc, or on-prem Power servers running in the customers’ own data center.
“Google Cloud’s Private API Access technology lets you access Google Cloud resources privately, while enabling all IBM Power Systems resources (LPARs) to use private IP spaces that you choose,” Ichhpurani wrote in the blog. “It’s secure by design and enables ultra-low latency between the IBM Power servers and Google Compute Engine virtual machines.”
Power Systems on Google Cloud is available only in one Google data center at the moment. However the company is working to add a second data center, which will bolster high availability protection, according to Waddell. The company also will support custom configurations for Power deployments, which could provide another differentiating factor as Google goes up against Microsoft Azure, Skytap, and IBM itself with its public cloud offerings.