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PurePower Accelerates POWER8 Cloud Deployment

IBM PurePower is a converged computing solution with OpenStack cloud management tools. The PurePower system is assembled from available POWER8 servers, x86 management nodes, the IBM Storwize V7000 disk subsystem, and general purpose SAN and network switches. The PurePower system provides a foundation for a cloud deployment that can grow with the computing industry.

IBM’s POWER8-Based Cloud Offerings

IBM offers a variety of ready-to-use cloud deployment options. PurePower and PureApplication are private cloud solutions that can be used to deploy POWER8-based AIX, IBM i and Linux workloads. POWER8-based Linux workloads can also be deployed through SoftLayer, IBM’s infrastructure as a service (IaaS) public cloud infrastructure. In addition, SoftLayer offers platform as a service (PaaS) via IBM’s Bluemix offering.

Think of management tools for these offerings in terms of the converged system infrastructure (PurePower) and integrated application stack (PureApplication) that run on the system infrastructure. Vendor-provided converged solutions may offer either or both of these management toolsets. PurePower provides associated cloud management tools, while PureApplication provides management tools that run on top of a system infrastructure.

The PurePower and PureApplication environments can be deployed in these ways:

  1. PurePower is an IaaS environment that provides a private cloud POWER8 foundation upon which clients can deploy their own workloads and application software.
  2. PureApplication Software is an application platform software bundle that can be deployed on an existing system infrastructure. Once configured and running, this is a PaaS application environment for WebSphere, commerce, analytics and similar workloads. The PureApplication software environment is offered for both Power and x86 based environments.
  3. PureApplication System is a fully integrated combination of the PurePower system infrastructure and the PureApplication software environment, with consolidated management tools.

Next I’ll cover the PurePower system infrastructure and cloud management tools.

PurePower Hardware Components

Each PurePower environment deploys within a single rack and includes these general purpose hardware components:

  • Compute – Between one and 12 IBM POWER8 S822 or S22L compute servers can be configured.
  • Storage – As noted, PurePower features IBM Storwize V7000 (2076-524) hardware, along with Spectrum Virtualize software. Additional storage drawers can be added.
  • Management – Two 16-core x86 servers (8374-01M) provide redundant systems management capabilities. A rack display/keyboard drawer (7316-TF4) provides a local GUI interface for the systems and cloud management tools.
  • SAN – Two fibre channel switches (7120-48E) provide local connectivity.
  • Systems management – PurePower includes two IBM 7120-48E local networking switches.
  • Internal data network – Two Mellanox MSX1700 switches (8831-NF2) provide compute server communications and connections to the WAN.
  • System rack – This is a 42 EIA rack (7014-B42).

There is no custom hardware in the PurePower system. This keeps costs low and makes it easier to accommodate future hardware upgrades. All of the components arrive installed in the rack and cabled to the switches. The management network and internal data networks are physically separated for improved availability, throughput and security.

PurePower Management Software

The PurePower system management software arrives configured and ready to go. These components run on the management and compute nodes:

  • x86 management nodes:
    • PurePower Integrated Manager (PPIM)
    • Power Virtualization Center with OpenStack (PowerVC)
    • Nagios, an open source workload and security monitoring tool
    • Virtual Hardware Management Console (vHMC)
  • POWER8 compute nodes:
    • Power Hypervisor (PHYP)
    • Virtual I/O (VIO) server

The two x86 management nodes are identically configured. The base hypervisor is Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV), which is based on the KVM hypervisor. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 is then implemented as the host operating system. Four virtual machines run on each management node:

  • VM1 – PowerVC
  • VM2 – PPIM and Nagios
  • VM3 – vHMC
  • VM4 – Service tools reserved for use by IBM service personnel.

The PPIM is a central console for access to all management functions for the PurePower system infrastructure. It can be accessed using the local console or through a browser interface on a remote computer. Management functions include:

  • PowerVC OpenStack based cloud management
  • vHMC access for basic server configuration and maintenance tasks
  • V7000 storage configuration
  • Network and SAN switch configuration

Under normal conditions, management tasks conducted using the PPIM should be done on just one of the management nodes. PPIM configuration data is backed up nightly to an external recovery storage partition. This recovery partition can be used for a full data restore on the backup management node.

vHMC software runs separately on each management node. The vHMC VMs are configured as HMC1 and HMC2. This provides an HMC setup that is just like the dual HMC configuration commonly used with Power Systems environments. Each vHMC has its own VLAN management network and connects into separate HMC management ports on each S822/S822L compute node.

The PurePower compute nodes natively feature the Power Systems Hypervisor (PHYP). Virtualized I/O is provided on each compute node through a pair of VIO servers. The VIO servers come configured with physical and virtual SAN and network connections.

Cloud management of virtual machines is provided by PowerVC, which is based on OpenStack. PowerVC communicates VM deployment and status requests directly to the VIO servers and through the vHMCs, which are connected to the Power hypervisor. PowerVC provides these cloud and virtualization management functions for virtual machines, called logical partitions (LPARs) on the POWER8 based servers:

  • Start/Stop/Delete LPARs
  • LPAR image capture/management/deployment
  • Host pool management/monitoring
  • LPAR placement/isolation
  • LPAR availability/performance

Workload OS requirements

The PurePower system supports these base operating system levels on the POWER8 compute nodes:

  • AIX 7.1 TL3 with Service Pack 3 or later
  • IBM i 7.1 TR11 and IBM i 7.2 TR3 or later (both require VIOS for I/O)
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1

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

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