If you've been unconscious or absent from the planet the last few days, you won't have heard of IBM PureSystems.
Jason McGee, Chief Architect for PureApplication system, showcased the easy installation and configuration of these new, factory-tuned, expert integrated systems. You can watch Jason's 6-minute demo and then sit in the crowded waiting room of
Dr. AIX Down Under (that's me on the left). Every patient has the same condition. They're all highly motivated, and generally highly skilled AIX engineers. They're all asking the same question:
Will these IBM PureSystems put me out of a job?
After all, you've had a successful career configuring systems, tuning them, rebuilding them, finding performance bottlenecks, writing scripts, and juggling high user expectations with a budget that would starve a mouse. Now there are these new systems that are configured in the blink of an eye, tune themselves and (you may be thinking), don't need you.
Well, before you sign the extinction certificate and set up the world's first museum for experienced AIX sys admins, have a think about the number of reasons your career is not doomed as of 11 April 2012, the day the new IBM PureSystems were launched.
1. PureSystems are built on Power7, AIX and PowerVM
First, these systems still can be built on Power7 processors. Sure, they can also use the x86 chip, but POWER7 processors are a key option. And the PureSystems can run AIX, (not to mention Linux, Windows and IBM i). They can run PowerVM as their hypervisor. They have been designed on the back of the AIX work you and I and a thousand others have done over the years. And if there's any Unix (or Unix-like) platform to be good at, it's AIX, with IBM having strong sales on POWER7 processors and AIX.
2.PureSystems are an extension of your own work
Second, the PureSystems still have a lot of components which are a natural progression from the architecture you've already been working on. There's a management console which is like a Hardware Management Console on steroids. There are AIX virtual machines (we used to call 'em LPARs) and VIO servers. There are applications which get built and run on them, and now that process will be simplified to free you up to try new things that take minutes to build instead of months. Now "minutes instead of months" may not instil confidence in you about your career prospects, but if you can step through a deployment that quickly, you're going to look like a hero. You'll have time to deploy other instances, to work on other projects or just to catch up on your work backlog.
3.You've got plenty of time to skill up
Third, these PureSystems are not going to throw you out of a job overnight. You don't move off existing infrastructure so quickly, even if the move is superfast in comparison with earlier technology. You have a wealth of troubleshooting skills, business knowledge, people management and project management abilities that put you well ahead if you do have to redefine your responsibilities. Or a better way to say that is you can leverage your existing talent to make you indispensible in other areas (or other companies).
4. PureSystems are part of the ecosystem
I know I wrote on Power IT Pro this week, that PureSystems are a Data Center in a Chassis. That was to show how much hardware can be squished into a single rack. Not just that - it's all integrated, optimised and largely self-managed. But that doesn't mean PureSystems will spell the end of your existing data centre (and your job). In fact, the PureSystems know that they are part of a data centre. They will be able to hook into existing storage and network configurations. The management console can also monitor and manage other existing systems that are in your data centre. The new kit doesn't make the old obsolete. The PureSystems can and probably will leverage the capabilities of your existing systems.
Also, I'm not sure how much, or how quickly the two PureSystems will make inroads into the big end of town. I'm no system architect, but I'd say PureSystems - at least the two models that have been announced so far - are more likely to be replacements for the Blades and other smaller systems. There's some pretty big grunt in some of the larger POWER7 systems, and they're not going to be turned off anytime soon.
5. BAU time will be down, but project time will go up
Fifth, if the PureSystems do take off, then projects will be much faster and much cheaper. That sounds to me like there will be more projects - more of the interesting project work, instead of the BAU Business as Usual (although some may call it Boring As Usual). Also, Big Data is a huge growth area, and many of your existing skills in analysing technical configurations could come in handy in this or other areas.
You're a deluxe pastry cook. There's no law against having your finger in several other pies.
6. IBM is committed to POWER and AIX
Sixth, is the answer given by Jim Stallings (pictured), General Manager, Global Markets IBM Systems and Technology Group when he was asked how the newly announced PureSystems would impact other IBM servers like z, x, i and p. Here's my transcript of his answer (with my emphases ... and my Aussie spelling)
This is an excellent question because every time we introduce something new there's always concern about the existing family of products. And there's just a couple of points. First of all, we are continuing to innovate on x, p, storage, z platforms today. And one of the reasons why is because customers run their corporations, run their businesses, run their governments, entire banks, the telecommunications industries run on these platforms. And the great news is they learned to optimise and tune these systems for maximum efficiency.
The other point is a lot of the learnings from those environments, you've heard us talk about these optimised patterns, have actually informed us as to how to build this new system. So, we'll continue to innovate, we'll continue to grow the family, we have roadmaps out over time, on all of the existing platforms, but when customers are thinking about the future, and when they're thinking about integration and consolidation, or cloud, this becomes a big option for them, a very viable option.
Also when you're thinking about "how do I address some of the expense and cost issues in the data center?", this becomes another option for them. One of the keys to this whole discussion is fit for purpose. And customers know this. They know that certain applications run very well on certain platforms. Some of that's trial and error. We've taken a lot of that guesswork out, with this work we've done with PureFlex systems. So they do have a choice. We'll continue to grow our investments and innovation around these existing platforms, and of course grow this family of PureFlex systems and PureApplication systems in the future.
Now you've seen what the GM of Global Markets, STG says. Do you think IBM is likely to drop the ball on POWER7 and AIX when it's clearly the market leader?
7. Your CV says you're valuable.
If you're still not convinced, and you're determined to make your career's demise a self-fulfilling prophecy, let me refer you to Exhibit A: your job resumé.
Do you remember these words?:
EXCELLENT COMMUNICATION SKILLS
What exactly did you mean? Never mind. Let the doctor tell you. You meant that you:
- speak and write clearly
- answer emails on time
- understand how to give clear explanations to non-technical people
- you're a great listener (listening is a communications skill, too)
- you understand the business needs / schedules / expectations
- you are not buried in a traditional IT silo. You know how to feel others' pain, even if there's not much you can do about it
- you're enthusiastic and you refuse to wear a grumpy face and an"I'm a legacy system admin" sticker on your forehead
- you have integrity in dealing with people and speaking about them. You know that some things are better left unsaid.
I could go on, but I have other patients waiting. So, in brief, you have a huge head start on the PureSystems technology, a lot of time to learn, a chance to bring your other soft skills into the forefront, and turning off your existing systems is not going to happen any time soon. They're vital to your business and will themselves most likely go through their own upgrades.
So, as I said a few days ago, I understand the nerves but it's time to get excited and apply your enthusiasm to build bigger (or usually smaller), better systems, so you can feed that insatiably hungry (but cash-strapped) beast known as the business. You've got the talents. Lots of them. Time to unbury them.
Next patient, please.