IBM Readies Power Systems Announcements For February 23
February 1, 2021 Timothy Prickett Morgan
The word on the street is that IBM is getting ready to do a slew of announcements relating to its Power Systems platform at the end of this month, specifically on February 23. Generally speaking, the announcements are going to focus on IT infrastructure modernization, cloud computing, and application modernization, which are obviously things that a lot of the IBM i base in particular has to consider here in 2021.
As best as we can figure, IBM is going to tell business partners in the Power Systems channel a bit about what is happening on February 9, two weeks before the announcement, and then do another round of briefings on February 16, a week ahead of announcements. All of this is happening on the Traditional Tuesdays that have governed Big Blue for as long as we can remember.
The data is a bit thin, and we don’t know much at the moment, but IBM is going to announce something that was called “Two-Step Upgrade Program” from Power9 to Power10, which is now going to be apparently called “IBM Power Systems Flexible Trade Up Offer.” We don’t know precisely what this two-step program is, but we were suggesting something of the sort only a few weeks ago to pave the road ahead for a better ride, and to help IBM and resellers make some money in the long time between now and when entry Power Systems running IBM i and AIX are available in early 2022, which is over a year from now. We would guess that what IBM is offering is an affordable upgrade path to Power10 systems a year or so from now for customers who buy a Power9 machine today – even if that means doing a box swap and not a traditional upgrade.
Additionally, Big Blue is expected to offer something called the IBM Power Systems Private Cloud Rack Offering, which sounds like a preconfigured rack of gear that is virtualized and has OpenShift container and possibly OpenStack cloud controller software from Red Hat prebundled on it, ready to roll into the datacenter as well as Red Hat Ansible modules for managing this stuff. That’s for on-premises gear, and a similar setup for the IBM Cloud, which marries the Power Systems Virtual Server instances with Red Hat OpenShift Kubernetes and runs it on IBM’s public cloud. Many customers will run such infrastructure in a hybrid mode – in case you haven’t noticed it, IBM is basing its future on the hybrid cloud and spent a fortune on Red Hat for this very reason. To this end, IBM will be offering something called “hybrid cloud credits,” presumably allowing customers with on-premises Power Systems iron running IBM i, AIX, or Linux to fire up instances of similar partitions to play on atop its IBM Cloud public cloud.
And finally, IBM will be celebrating 35 years of its AIX variant of the Unix operating system, and we are not sure what it will be doing to try to make AIX more interesting to customers who don’t already love and use it.
Presumably, there will be more in the announcements on the application modernization front, seeing as though this is apparently one of the themes of the February 23 announcements. But thus far, we have no indication of what this might be. It could be stronger partnership announcements and co-investment of some sort with the major application modernization tool vendors, it could be something else. We don’t know as yet.
We are also hearing some buzz about the future IBM i 7.5 release, which we presume is tied to the Power10 launch for high-end machines later this year and entry and midrange machines early next year. What we hear is that security is going to be a big focus of the platform changes with this release. We don’t have any details here, but are trying to find out more.
We are not expecting any new Power Systems hardware announcements from IBM at this time, but the company could always surprise us.