IBM Adds ServicePacs For Power Machine Setup, Other Tweaks
November 15, 2021 Timothy Prickett Morgan
The legacy IBM Company from decades gone by charged a hell of a lot of its systems and offered a slew of handholding to make it all worthwhile. Somewhere along the way, service became a profit center and a revenue driver instead of an attitude about customer service, and you can’t entirely blame IBM because time is money and people don’t obey Moore’s Law economics.
The ServicePac offerings that Big Blue has put together in recent years, which cover just about every aspect of its hardware and software stack, seem like a mix of old and new. Yes, the services have fees, but they are also precisely targeted with standard prices (even if those prices are not public), rather than making every customer engagement unique and the price negotiation start off with: “What does it cost? Well, how much do you got?”
Not everyone has the time or skills to set up a complex Power Systems machine to run their mission critical applications, and they often need more than basic hardware and software maintenance services. Hence, IBM is launching two new ServicePacs aimed at Power Systems customers.
In announcement letter 621-022, Big Blue has announced a ServicePac offering for Power Systems and IBM Storage that gives faster and more consistent access to IBM techies, including onsite hardware maintenance coverage that spans 24 hours a day and seven days a week. The ServicePac for IBM Power and IBM Storage has the option of adding extra years of hardware maintenance above and beyond normal support as well as warranty extensions and supplemental machine setup support. This ServicePac also allows customers to retain media that might have sensitive data on it when they replace media in their IBM storage products; the retention is for three years or five years.
In announcement letter 121-018, IBM is launching a ServicePac for machine setup support services for Power Systems. Power-based servers are, technically speaking, customer setup machines. Meaning, you get it on the pallet in your shipping dock and it is your problem. With this ServicePac, IBM offers to:
- Assemble the machine, including the interconnection of required IBM machine cables
- Install the machine, including active IBM features and attachments ordered, but excluding non-IBM alterations and attachments
- Install the primary Hardware Management Console (HMC), if required
- Install and activate the most recent versions of IBM-approved hardware microcode
- Power on the machine and ensure it boots error-free
This ServicePac does not install server racks, power distribution units, secondary HMCs; it also does not install operating systems or update HMC and microcode. But your reseller will probably do this for a fee or as part of their engagement. (We know resellers who do this.) This particular ServicePac is only for installation, and does not cover subsequent issues.
In other news, IBM has announced a special Solution Edition of the “Denali” Power E1080 server for the healthcare industry, which you can see in announcement letter 121-091. There is precious little information about this Solution Edition, except that it has what IBM calls a “cost effective” configuration of a 60-core version of the machine (that is a single node, four-socket machine at maximum core capacity) with 512 GB of main memory, aimed at IBM i and AIX shops. This setup is tailored to medium to large hospitals and is certified to run popular third-party applications for IBM i and AIX in the healthcare industry. The maximum configuration of this Solution Edition is for a two-node, 120-core system.
And finally, IBM is discontinuing the Power IC922 inference server, based on Power9 processors and Nvidia Tesla T4 GPU-based machine learning inference accelerators, which was announced in January 2020. This machine will no longer be available after December 31, 2021. Obviously, IBM wants customers to run inference natively on the Power10 processor, atop its on-chip matrix math accelerators, which were explicitly designed to support inference processing on the same processor and memory hierarchy as the other application processing. No surprises here, and the fact that IBM is pulling the plug on the Power IC922 and the entry and midrange Power10 servers are not even here yet tells us that IBM never really did sell very many Power IC922 servers.