September 19, 2019 By Skip Garvin 4 min read

In part 1 of this series, we started to look at the myth that IBM AIX and Unix are no longer relevant. We talked about the Unix wars that began in the 1980s and how the market has evolved since then. Now, let’s consider the evolution of AIX in the past few decades and the introduction of cloud computing, AI and open source.

IBM AIX – The evolution continues

IBM AIX emerged from the Unix wars not just as the winner but as a world-class, open standards, enterprise-level operating system based on Unix, able to compete for any of the workloads in today’s market and ready to play in the era of cloud and AI.

Since its initial release in 1986, AIX has continued to evolve and adapt to changing market demands. A strong development team and roadmap delivered enhancements in performance, scale, availability and security on top of a rock-solid virtualization infrastructure, that have helped boost AIX’s strategic value to the thousands of companies using it and earn it the reputation as the most reliable platform in the industry.

Cloud solutions, artificial intelligence and open source software are three of the most discussed topics in the market today–and all of these are an integral part of the IBM AIX strategy and roadmap. Consider the following:

  • AIX is available on the IBM Cloud, Google Cloud and cloud offerings from SkyTap, LPARBOX, Connectria and others, enabling clients to run AIX workloads in a hybrid cloud environment.
  • Several python-based machine learning packages are available on the AIX open source toolbox.
  • Clients can use data running on AIX for machine learning in various ways:
    • Connecting to the IBM Watson data platform using a secure gateway
    • Training a model on a POWER9 server with PowerAI or H2O Driverless AI and then deploying the model on a PowerVM-based system (within a Linux VM), thus benefitting from high-speed and low-latency data movement between AI and enterprise processing environments
  • The AIX Toolbox for Linux applications contains a collection of open source and GNU software built for AIX systems.
  • AIX is compatible with industry-leading cloud orchestration technologies including Ansible, Chef, Puppet and Yum.

Unlike HP-UX, Solaris and other Unix players, AIX never lost its strategic value to the companies that have invested and continue to invest in it. AIX has been able to do this because of a long-term commitment to development, an incredibly strong ecosystem and an ability to adopt and integrate new ideas and technologies into its framework.

The cloud wars

In part 1 we talked about the Unix wars and chip wars. The all-encompassing cloud wars are now being waged, and nearly every organization we speak with is trying to define its cloud strategy. The one thing missing in the cloud wars that made the Unix wars and chip wars interesting is choice.

Yes, there are many cloud providers, but they all use the same basic x86 and Linux technology. They might have strong plays in the public cloud, but cloud wars winners will have an equally strong hybrid (multi-) cloud offering as well. And this is where IBM Power Systems and AIX come into play, offering a strong value proposition for running mission-critical workloads on premises, within a private cloud as well as in the public cloud.

Choice is good. Technology gets better when it has to compete. Solutions improve for clients, and innovation is accelerated for everyone.

We know that Power Systems and AIX can provide choice and offer several advantages compared to the competition:

  • Power Systems is a superior platform to x86 thanks to better performance, scalability, availability and security.
  • Power has the added benefit of being able to run AIX, Linux and IBM i at the same time on the same system, which has huge consolidation benefits, in particular in the era of cloud.
  • PowerVM, PowerVC and other tools make it easy for AIX to be an integral part of hybrid cloud environments, and PowerHA and PowerSC ensure you can run highly available and secure workloads.

AIX is still a mainstay

One of the basic tenets of hybrid cloud is that workloads should be deployed to the environment best suited for them, be it a public cloud, a private cloud, or a traditional data center environment where dedicated computing resources are required. A corollary to that tenet is that these environments should be able to communicate with each other and be integrated.

Many industry studies have shown that more than 80 percent of enterprise applications have not yet moved to a cloud environment–and some never will. These include mission-critical and security-dependent applications as well as workloads in highly regulated industries like banking and healthcare.

You’re very likely to find many of the environments described above running successfully on IBM Power Systems and AIX today–and with greater cost effectiveness than on any public cloud.

Given the role that AIX plays today in running mission-critical applications for companies around the world, and given the work being done to enhance AIX’s capabilities in areas like cloud, AI and open source, it’s easy to see how the choice of a Power Systems solution running AIX can enhance a client’s hybrid cloud environment. Clearly AIX is alive and well with an exciting roadmap for the future.

IBM System Lab Services has a team of highly experienced consultants ready to help you get the most out of IBM Power Systems and IBM AIX. Reach out today if you have any questions or need help migrating to AIX and stay tuned for the next post in the “Top IBM Power Systems myths” series.

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