IBM’s Power Systems Battle Plan To Take On 2023
February 15, 2023 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Human beings treat every year as if they are distinct, and that means businesses have to do the same. Strategies evolve over time and deal with discontinuities like recessions, but tactics are ever-changing as companies cope with the conditions on the ground, not the view from the headquarters. And thus, the Power Systems segment within IBM’s Systems division within its Infrastructure group is no different, but this year is a bit different as the top brass in Power Systems are actually giving us some insight into the battle plan for the year.
Ken King, general manager of the Power Systems business, set the tone for 2023 in a blog post on February 14.
“Building off a strong year fueled by Power10 innovation, we are doubling down on our commitment to help companies modernize with this powerful engine in 2023,” King explained. “We will do this in an agile fashion throughout the year by unlocking speed and innovation with frictionless hybrid cloud experiences delivered in new and enhanced flexible consumption models, mitigating risk for business resilience with cloud controls and data protection optimized for the most highly regulated industries, and helping to save cost with increasingly more energy-efficient systems.”
King then laid out the priorities, some of which were made concurrent with announcements that we are still gathering information on as we write this. The priorities are as follows, presumably in a kind of ranked order:
- Invest in the three operating system pillars that drive the Power Systems business: AIX, IBM i, and Linux.
- Grow the SAP HANA on Power business, and in particular make entry and midrange Power10 machines available that fit the 2 TB to 6 TB memory footprint size and compete head-to-head with Intel’s new “Sapphire Rapids” Xeon SP platforms. One important new feature here, which we are chasing down as well as the configurations of the new SAP HANA machines, is the ability to do Live Partition Mobility live migration of HANA databases and applications with what IBM is calling virtual persistent memory. We will let you know what this is when we find out. IBM has SAP HANA machines certified up to 40 TB memory footprints, and can deliver up to 64 TB of main memory. SAP HANA runs on Linux, of course.
- Push the Red Hat OpenShift Kubernetes container platform running on Power as a modernization platform, with a focus on the financial services industry but aimed at all industries and, according to Steve Sibley, vice president and global offering management for Power Systems at IBM, all three platforms. The idea is just what we have been asking for all along: Wrapping IBM consulting services together with OpenShift on Power to help customers with legacy applications and databases running on AIX and IBM i augment those systems and build new applications based on microservices running containers and on Linux partitions on their AIX and IBM i machines.
- Give customers more flexibility with software subscriptions across the Power portfolio, including for hardware and operating systems. This includes subscription pricing for the Merlin modernization tool as well as for the IBM i operating system across all Power9 and Power10 machines. This latter one was just announced, and we are chasing down precisely what the subscription prices are.
IBM does not provide specific financial results for the Power Systems line, but apparently for the full 2022 year, the business did a bit better than our models (derived from IBM’s own financial reports and historical data that we have) showed. And there is a good chance that IBM can have a pretty good 2023.
“If you go back to Power8 and Power9 and do generation to generation and year to year comparisons, Power10 was good,” Sibley tells The Four Hundred. “We are very pleased with where we are from a business standpoint. They key is, do we think we can grow in 2023? And in our view, the answer is yes. It’s about driving new workloads, helping SAP customers with the migration to HANA, and modernizing applications in key industries and helping them move to OpenShift, and of course refreshing the base of Power7, Power8, and Power9 machines to Power10.”
The combination of OpenShift and Power Systems is particularly powerful (pun intended), according to Sibley.
“One of the compelling things for OpenShift on Power Systems is the ability to get more container density and more throughput out of those containers can dramatically lower costs,” Sibley explains. “Containers and their software are priced by the CPU core, and if we are more efficient, it costs less. We have done a lot of work with Red Hat for OpenShift on Power, and that means it is a pretty easy lift and shift from X86 to Power. You can write once and run anywhere. We have one customer who created microservices workloads on AWS using Red Hat middleware. But the customer was having challenges with scalability and availability, and so they moved it back to a Power9-based Enterprise Pool they had on premises running OpenShift. They had it ported in less than a day and had it fully tested in a couple of weeks, servicing the banks that are their own customers. Our message is that if you have containers that are more critical and attached to your core data and business applications, you might want to consider deploying on Power Systems.”
Every IBM i and AIX customer looking at cloud for new applications should probably consider subscription-priced Power10 systems and OpenShift running in some partitions as a viable option to running on Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud – and indeed, running on any of the Power-based cloud services from IBM Cloud, Connectria, Skytap/Microsoft, Google, or any number of smaller players. You can build a cloud-like experience internally with cloud-like pricing now, and you need to do the math. We will do our part to help you do that math, as soon as we get our hands on the IBM i subscription pricing for those Power9 and Power10 machines.
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