Sundry Systems Software And CoD Power Systems Announcements
May 4, 2020 Timothy Prickett Morgan
There is a steady drumbeat of new stuff that always comes out of IBM for the Power Systems hardware platform, and sometimes it is Big Blue banging on the big kettle drum and sometimes it is using the brushes on the little snare drum.
Now that IBM owns Red Hat, we can expect for IBM to be making a certain amount of noise every time a piece of Red Hat technology becomes available on Power and demonstrates that both Red Hat and IBM – which have two distinct cultures as well as announcement streams – are committed to the idea that all Red Hat products should be ported to Power and be a peer to Intel’s Xeon SPs, AMD’s Epycs, and Ampere Computing’s and Marvell’s respective Altra and ThunderX lines of commercial Arm processors. And as much as we think it would be interesting to highly tune RHEL and the systems software to run best on IBM Power iron (and still run well on System z mainframe iron), that is not going to happen. Power iron will have to live by its own merits, as it has had to do. At least now, we can hope that those merits – high throughout cores with second-to-none threading, high clock speeds, lots of caches, high memory bandwidth and capacity, and great gobs of I/O with support for the widest variety of protocols at the highest speeds – will be quickly expressed in the software rather than take months and months.
To that end, in announcement letter 220-193, we see that Red Hat’s OpenShift Container Platform 4.3, which is the commercial Linux distributor’s latest implementation of the Kubernetes container orchestrator, and OpenStack Platform 16, its latest release of the eponymous cloud controller that came out of NASA and Rackspace Hosting in the summer of 2010, are now available for Enterprise Linux running on Power Systems. The OpenShift stack is based on the RHEL CoreOS variant of Linux, which Red Hat acquired a number of years ago to transform its OpenShift automation platform into a Kubernetes container controller, and comes with IBM Cloud Paks, which bundles IBM middleware and other systems software into containers, and Cloud Pak support, which is the technical support service for the stack. Obviously, customers on OpenShift 3.11 who are on support will be able to automagically upgrade to OpenShift 4.3, the former of which was announced in October 2018. And also obviously, OpenShift runs inside of Linux containers on either the PowerVM or KVM hypervisors, and on machines that are running IBM i and/or AIX, the choice of hypervisor has to be PowerVM. And if you are going Linux-only on Power, you need to buy a RHEL license to get the KVM hypervisor that then in turn hosts the CoreOS instances that in turn host the containers.
Now let’s talk about OpenStack Platform 16, which is different from IBM’s own PowerVC variant of OpenStack, which is also native on Power and which has not been deprecated as yet by Big Blue (and may not be for a number of years). OpenStack Platform 16 is based on the “Train” release of OpenStack, which was put out by the OpenStack community in October 2019 and announced as a commercial product by Red Hat in February this year. This is a cumulative release of OpenStack, taking all the best bits of the open source OpenStack “Rocky,” “Stein” and “Train” releases and mixing it with the best bits of OpenStack Platform 14 and 165 from Red Hat and plunking it all down on the new RHEL 8 Linux variant, which is also shiny and new.
This sentence in the IBM OpenStack on Power part of the announcement cracked me up: “Now Red Hat OpenStack Platform 16 for Power is available, enabling you to deploy compute nodes to the overcloud and deploy ironic services on IBM Power8 and IBM Power9 technology-based systems.”
OK, what the hell is the “overcloud,” and what are “ironic services.” I think they mean the hybrid cloud mixing on-premises and public cloud compute, networking and storage for the first, and I know that Ironic is the bare metal system configurator and controller that plugs into OpenStack. Anyway. . . .
The point is that Power is a peer of X86 and Arm when it comes to OpenShift and OpenStack, whether you are on the overcloud or being ironic. Or both. You need to be on Power8 or Power9 systems to play, though.
Meanwhile, over in announcement letter 920-065, IBM withdrew a bunch of features of selected entry Power Systems machines on March 24, including a graphics adapter card, an M.2 carrier card for PCI-Express flash cards supporting the NVM-Express protocol, and the 400 GB M.2 flash module.
Finally, in announcement letter 120-019, elastic capacity on demand features with a 90-day period for compute and memory for selected Power8 and Power9 systems, which were withdrawn on October 31, 2019, have been reinstated and will be available until December 31, 2020. A bunch of daily and 100-day elastic CoD features for Power8 and Power9 systems that were slated to be withdrawn on April 30, 2020 are now having their life extended to December 31, 2020 as well. We are under the impression that IBM wants to shift everyone to Enterprise Pools rather than CoD capacity, but that’s just a gut feeling. It seems logical to keep both Enterprise Pools, which allows customers to move operating systems around capacity on a collection of machines, as well as CoD, which allows latent capability in any given Power System server to be activated temporarily. But, maybe IBM is thinking that customers should just buy more capacity outright and pool it and build their own elasticity. It’s not clear.
And finally, in announcement letter 220-215, dated April 28, 2020 we find that IBM has corrected an error in announcement letter 219-214, dated April 23, 2019, and reminds everyone that despite what it said a year ago, Domino 10.0.1 and its related Traveler 10.0.1 tool, which is part of the Lotus Suite of products now support by HCL, are not – we repeat, are not – supported on IBM i 7.4.