IBM Systems Lab Services

The cloud journey on IBM Power Systems

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As a consultant in IBM Systems Lab Services, I’ve been implementing cloud solutions for our IBM Power Systems clients since 2009. The technologies we’re using are always evolving, and we have helped hundreds of Power Systems clients around the world take their IT infrastructures from fully virtualized to cloud-enabled. With the recent announcement of the IBM POWER9 processor that will drive the next generation of cognitive and cloud systems, I want to take the opportunity to provide a snapshot of where we are and where we’re going with cloud on Power Systems.

Success with PowerVC

For the last four years, IBM PowerVC Virtualization Center (PowerVC) has been the chief technology for private (on-premises) cloud on Power Systems. Based on OpenStack, PowerVC has allowed clients to rapidly provision virtual machines (or logical partitions, LPARs) and their associated storage volumes, zones and virtual networking. It has also helped clients deal with the nontechnical challenges of adopting cloud—merging the server, storage and network siloes, and decreasing the amount of human interaction and “red tape” required for provisioning new environments. Importantly, PowerVC’s RESTful API connectivity has enabled Power Systems to join other clouds, such as those managed by VMware’s vRealize suite of products.

PowerVC’s capabilities have grown significantly over the years. While it might not meet every client requirement, it covers the vast majority of VM provisioning and administration use cases. It does so with a roster of basic and advanced functions. If we were to take a look at the main ones—though definitely not all of them—we would highlight:

  • Providing an intuitive UI for everyday VM management tasks—provisioning, adding storage, dynamically changing processor and memory, performing Live Partition Mobility, capturing new images, performing maintenance
  • Meeting specific configuration standards through compute, storage and network templates, storage connectivity groups, tagged ports, host groups, placement policies and collocation rules
  • Enabling user provisioning by way of a self-service portal with an approval process, multitenancy, deploy templates, quotas and email notifications
  • Propelling Power Systems further into the cloud with automated remote restart, Dynamic Resource Optimizer (DRO) and software-defined networking (SDN)

Entering 2018

With its latest release in December 2017 (v1.4), PowerVC continues to provide new cloud functions while being responsive to client requests for enhancements (RFEs). As it is looking forward, PowerVC is expanding its capabilities in strategic cognitive and cloud areas such as facilitating open source databases (OSDBs) on Power Systems, connecting private to public clouds, software-defined infrastructure (SDI) and management of both PowerVM and KVM on Power Systems. To highlight just a few of the new release enhancements:

  • Strengthening Power Systems’ SDI capabilities with software-defined storage (SDS), which includes automated configuration of IBM Spectrum Scale (the capability was previously available as a technical preview)
  • Enabling easy deployment of OSDBs themselves in addition to VMs in the UI (technical preview)
  • Supporting agile workload images that can be easily imported and exported between storage providers, or between private and public clouds
  • Managing PowerVM and KVM on OpenPOWER hosts in the same PowerVC instance
  • Capturing a live VM
  • Customizing SAN zone names to meet client standards

What about public cloud?

PowerVC has been successful and continues to grow as a solution in the private cloud space. However, IBM is not neglecting the public cloud (sometimes just referred to as “cloud”) option for Power Systems workloads. In partnership with Skytap, IBM has announced IBM Cloud for Skytap Solutions. This solution provides true public cloud for Power Systems workloads, while leveraging PowerVC’s image agility for simpler workload migration to the cloud.

What about cloud-native apps and containers?

If you are thinking, So far everything sounds great as far as cloud for VMs, but what about cloud-native apps in containers on Power? please read on. IBM has announced the availability of IBM Cloud Private on Power Systems, our main solution for managing new cloud-native apps and modernizing existing monolithic apps. Based on Kubernetes, IBM Cloud Private provides Power Systems clients with an intuitive UI for deploying apps in containers and an extensive library of existing open-source and IBM container services.

Conclusion

One short blog post doesn’t provide quite enough room to examine all cloud solutions on Power Systems; for instance, we didn’t talk about hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) on Power with Nutanix. Nevertheless, I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief snapshot of the cloud journey on Power Systems. Along with analytics, deep and machine learning, high performance computing (HPC) and hyperscale data center solutions, cloud is a key for Power Systems as a cognitive platform as we enter the POWER9 era.

Please reach out to Lab Services if we can help with your next cloud project on IBM Power Systems.

Power Cloud Team Leader, IBM Systems Lab Services

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