Comarch’s PowerCloud Gives IBM, Microsoft, And Google A Run For The Money
July 14, 2021 Tomasz Wachnicki
If you are looking for a cloud provider that has expertise in Power-based systems and that has datacenters in the United States, Europe, and Asia – so they are local to those geographies – and yet available on a truly global basis, and backed by deep experience in managed services for IBM i and AIX platforms, you have an option that you might not be aware of. The company is called Comarch, and it is taking on IBM, Google, and Microsoft/Skytap for IBM i and AIX business in the cloud.
For those of you who are unaware of Comarch, it was founded in 1993 by Janusz Filipiak, a professor at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków, Poland. Filipiak is an expert on teleinformatics, which is concerned with managing dataflows on service provider networks, and he created Comarch to offer managed services to telecommunications companies and other suppliers in Poland and across Europe. The company was naturally headquartered in Kraków, where it remains to this day, and has 58 subsidiaries with 91 offices around the world and is active in 100 countries across six continents.
The company went public in 1999 on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, and today has a market capitalization of over $400 million. Despite the coronavirus pandemic – some might say because of it – Comarch increased research and development spending by 12.5 percent to $67.5 million and was still able to drive revenues up by 5.2 percent to $393.5 million while also increasing earnings before taxes by 17.7 percent to $69.6 million; the company has $114.7 million in the bank, up 36.7 percent.
Here are some of the big names in telecommunications, financial services, food and beverages, and retail that are Comarch customers:
And here are some of the companies in manufacturing, travel, oil and gas, and small and medium businesses that Comarch also counts as marquee customers:
Today, Comarch has over 6,500 employees worldwide – mostly programmers, engineers, and computer scientists –and has a line of ERP and BI software called Optima that it sells under a SaaS model and that it runs in datacenters around the world based on X86 server technology, which is called Comarch Infraspace Cloud.
More than a decade ago, a bunch of big insurance companies in Poland and the Netherlands ask Comarch to take over the management of their on-premises Power Systems platforms, and thus a new line of business was created for the information and communications technology, or ICT, division of Comarch.
In 2019, as IBM, Google, Microsoft, and Skytap were ramping up their Power-based clouds, Comarch launched its PowerCloud service, which is a cloud offering like those from the rivals mentioned above but one that has managed services at every level of the IT organization. Comarch manages everything but the applications, and we can work with all of the big public clouds in a hybrid fashion if that is what customers need as well as offering capacity on our own X86-based Infraspace Cloud. We are also an IBM reseller, and if customers want to have a hybrid setup, mixing on-premises Power Systems servers with instances on our PowerCloud, we can do that, too.
PowerCloud is based on a fully virtualized model, which supports IBM i and AIX in logical partitions on Power Systems machines, with support for Linux coming down the road as a sufficient number of customers ask for it and therefore warrant the investment. The management portal, which is based on the in-house tools that we use to manage systems on behalf of customers, is shown below and is a key differentiator for us.
The infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offering for PowerCloud is available now, and we are working on extending this with platform as a service (PaaS) offerings, starting with disaster recovery and backup/replication services. We currently partner to be able to resell Precisely’s MIMIX and Quick-EDD, IBM’s PowerHA, and Maxava’s Maxava HA products and plan to offer these as the basis of DR and backup services for the PowerCloud. We can also install HelpSystems’ Robot tools for monitoring as a service, and we are also looking at how we can implement IBM’s Red Hat OpenShift Kubernetes container management platform on Power instances as a PaaS service.
The map below will give you a sense of the coverage we have for our Infraspace and PowerCloud offerings:
Our facilities have a mix of scale-out and enterprise-class Power Systems machines, just like IBM is offering, and we are also installing Power AC922 machines – similar to the servers used in the “Summit” supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the “Sierra” supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the United States – for helping customers support their machine learning workloads.
We currently have Power-based machines installed in our datacenters in Dresden in Germany and Kraków and Warsaw in Poland, and will have machines installed in our datacenter in Lille, France by the end of the year. As business cases warrant, we will consider adding Power instances in the United States and Asia, where we are already operating datacenters supporting X86 machinery. For the moment, we are focusing on Europe Europe where majority of our
customers is located (e.g. Renault, see the video case study in related items), with a push into the Middle East and Asia and plans for expansion in the United States. We are, in fact, reaching out to you in IT Jungle to start the process of entering the market in the United States and to make more people aware of our PowerCloud in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
We offer an array of services that are over and above what the other public clouds with Power instances can offer. In addition to the business continuity services that are being rolled out – monitoring, backup management, disaster recovery and high availability – we offer management services such as operating system administration, performance tuning, operating system and systems software upgrades, patch management, and batch job management. On the security front, we offer security monitoring and incident management, compliance and reporting, risk/threat analysis, and vulnerability scanning services.
Because we own the Power machines we build our cloud upon and because we offer a substantial array of for-fee services, we can afford to be very aggressive on pricing. Here is, very generally speaking, how PowerCloud stacks up to the Power-based cloud offerings from IBM, Google, and Microsoft/Skytap:
The basic LPAR slice on PowerCloud with 4 GB of main memory and 70 GB of storage with 25 percent of a Power9 share capped core (or around 3,200 CPWs of performance) costs 38 cents per hour from Comarch, which works out to $280 per month. That price is before long-term reservation discounts or for higher volumes of CPWs if the project is extensive.
If you are shopping for Power on the cloud, don’t forget to give Comarch a call.
This content is sponsored by Comarch ICT.
Tomasz Wachnicki is product manager in the Comarch ICT division of Comarch.