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New Power Enterprise Pools Add Mobility to Core and Memory Activations


IBM recently announced Power Enterprise Pools, which allow you to easily move processor core and memory activations within pools of Power 770 and Power 780/795 servers. Power Enterprise Pools are based on new, mobile activation features that are designed to reduce systems costs for Live Partition Mobility (LPM), PowerHA, disaster recovery and similar environments.

Mobile Activations

Separate feature codes for mobile core and mobile memory activations have been announced. The mobile activations can be freely moved among servers participating in a pool. Server pool configuration, along with mobile core and memory activation assignments, is made using a master HMC. Permanent (static) and on/off CoD activations continue to be available. Each server in the pool has a minimum static activation requirement that can be combined with the new mobile activation features.

Power 770 servers must operate within their own pool. A separate pool can be created with a combination of Power 780 and Power 795 servers. The specific servers that are supported are: 9117-MMD (Power 770), 9179-MHD (Power 780), and 9119-FHB (Power 795).

Use Cases

The capability to freely move core and memory activations between servers in a pool provides a new degree of architecture. Some application areas where you might consider using Power Enterprise Pools include:

  • Live Partition Mobility (LPM)–When using LPM for scheduled maintenance or partition relocation, mobile activations can be shifted from the LPM source server to the LPM target server.
  • PowerHA clusters–If the primary server fails, you can move mobile activations from the primary server to the backup server.
  • Rebalancing server capacity–Mobile activations can be moved between servers to make best use of core and memory resources. Mobile activations can also be use to temporarily relocate resources for end of month processing or full-scale performance testing.

The capability to adjust mobile activations between servers may result in a reduction of the total amount of activations required for your pool of servers. Note that server partitions make no distinction between static, mobile or on/off CoD activations. At any point in time, the hypervisor is simply aware of the total number of available activations and distributes the resources to partitions as needed.

Ordering Mobile Activations

Mobile processor activations are ordered in one core increments just like static core activations. For faster clock speed processors in each server model, mobile core activations cost approximately 5 percent more than static core activations. For slower processor clock speeds, mobile activations are around 13 percent to 50 percent higher in price, depending on the server model. If you are planning to order a large number of mobile activations, you might want to consider using the processors with the faster clock speed. Mobile memory activations are ordered in increments of 100 GB and cost about 8 percent more than static memory activations. Existing and future static core and memory activations can be converted to mobile activations through a standard IBM upgrade order. Mobile activation features for the Power 795 server have a planned availability of Dec. 6, 2013. Mobile activation features for the Power 770/780 servers are planned to be available on April 25, 2014. The availability dates are based on the availability of server firmware version eFW 7.8. Core-based Power Systems software is assigned to specific servers for inventory purposes; however, the Power Systems software licenses are accounted for at the pool level from a software compliance perspective.

The Master HMC

Power Enterprise Pools are created and managed using a master HMC. A backup HMC can be implemented, if desired. Multiple pools can be created on the master HMC: up to 48 Power 770 servers in a single pool and up to 32 Power 780/795 servers can be intermixed in a pool. Different processor clock speeds are allowed within each pool.

When getting started, server serial numbers and pool assignments must be registered with IBM. Once this is completed mobile activation features can be ordered and implemented. Using the master HMC, you can move mobile core and memory activations among servers in a pool. Changes can be made as frequently as desired and don’t require IBM involvement. Servers not participating in a pool can be managed by the HMC just as they always have. Note that the HMC continues to support of a maximum of 1,000 partitions. This should be taken into consideration when configuring Power Enterprise Pools with a large number of servers.

Additional Configuration Requirements

Servers participating in Power Enterprise Pools must have a base level of static core and memory activations. Power 770/780 servers must have at least four static core activations. Power 795 servers must have at least 24 static activations. For systems with more than 96 cores installed, 25 percent of installed cores must be static. Looking at memory activations for Power 770/780/795 servers, 50 percent of installed memory must be activated; the first 25 percent must be static activations and the remaining 25 percent can be any combination of static and mobile activations. Note that Power Enterprise Pools and the associate mobile activation features will be enabled by forthcoming server firmware eFW 7.8 and HMC version 7.8.

Thinking ahead

The implementation of Power Enterprise Pools can result in significant cost savings for a variety of server implementations. If you have any of the supported servers currently in use or have plans to implement them in the future, you should consider using the new mobile activation features to enhance your operational flexibility and potential cost savings.

Charlie Cler supports customers in a solutions-architect role at Forsythe Technology Inc. He can be reached at ccler@forsythe.com.


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