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POWER9 Hardware and More to Look Forward to in 2018

POWER9 2018

For most of us, the holidays are a time to unwind. Of course I say "most of us" because in IT, someone is always needed to keep tabs on those machines on the raised floor. Even though laptops, phones and VPNs make it possible to arrange for coverage remotely, there's still nothing like being able to completely unplug from work for a week or two (preferably on a beach somewhere). So if you were tasked with being on call during the holidays, I salute you. And if you were fortunate enough have time off at the end of the year, I hope you enjoyed it, and I assume you're now ready to get back to it.

Being away from our jobs is certainly relaxing, but with everything that goes on during the holidays, it's easy to lose track of news about AIX and IBM. With this in mind, let's take a quick look back at some things you may have missed over the final weeks of 2017.

No doubt, you've heard that POWER9 is here. While I expect 2018 to be an eventful year with POWER9 server announcements―as well as the expected updates to AIX, IBM i and the VIO server itself―the first POWER9-based server, the AC922, was unveiled in December. This announcement naturally drew a lot of coverage from mainstream tech outlets, including ZDNet, CRN  and Tech Crunch

Given this IBM statement of direction, look for much more going forward:

IBM intends to offer clients with IBM Power E870, E870C, E880, and E880C systems the following capabilities that are designed to provide a smoother migration path to the POWER9 technology-based systems when they become available.

IBM plans to offer system upgrades from Power E870, E870C, E880, and E880C systems to the next-generation POWER9 systems that will maintain the serial number of the existing IBM POWER8 systems.

IBM intends to deliver the capability for the next-generation high-end system with POWER9 processors to participate in the same Power Enterprise Pool with Power E870, E880, or E870C/E880C systems.

Although this doesn’t speak to timing―and this article is certainly not meant to be an announcement of any kind―it's entirely reasonable to assume that new POWER9 servers will be coming in the relatively near future. I, for one, cannot wait to start installing them with clients.

Other Changes

Big changes are also in store for the HMC. I wrote about the four HMC options, including a virtual HMC that will run on x86 and a virtual HMC that will run on Power servers. There's also an HMC appliance that will be based on POWER hardware as x86 hardware gets phased out over time. Because some data centers won't allow Lenovo hardware onto their floors (which the current HMC appliances are based on) and since POWER hardware is a better choice anyway, it makes even more sense to switch from x86-based HMC appliances.

In addition, there's a new version of PowerVC. Read about version 1.4.0 here and here. Some highlights include integrated software defined storage, support for machines running KVM on POWER, the capability to import/export deployable images, the capability to capture a live virtual machine and UI updates.

PowerAI

is a platform that bundles the most popular machine learning frameworks with all of the dependencies and optimizations needed to get up and running quickly. To get started with PowerAI, download the code or request a trial.

https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/community/blogs/Power_Systems_Solutions/entry/5_Things_to_Know_About_IBM_PowerAI?lang=en

https://developer.ibm.com/linuxonpower/deep-learning-powerai/

https://www.ibm.com/us-en/marketplace/deep-learning-platform

Another interesting development is "cloud ready" AIX images. I'll let Chris Gibson fill you in:

In addition to installation images for AIX, "cloud" image formats are also made available that can be readily deployed with PowerVC. These images contain a default AIX base media install configuration that includes Cloud Init and its dependencies. The images can be obtained from the IBM Entitled System Support website or IBM Passport Advantage.

This covers plenty of other ground, including the capability to install AIX from USB:

AIX 7.2 technology Level 2 and AIX 7.1 technology 5 support installation via a USB flash memory stick on POWER8 and later systems. A USB flash memory stick containing an AIX installation image can be created by first downloading the AIX installation image from the IBM Entitled System Support website. A single volume installation image of these AIX levels is available on the Entitled System Support website for writing to a USB flash device. Once downloaded, the AIX installation image can be written to a USB flash memory stick. It is recommended that a recently manufactured USB flash memory stick be used.

Here are a couple recent updates about IBM's PowerHA product suite: the new PowerHA SystemMirror GUI and the latest version of PowerHA SystemMirror for Linux.

Finally, the Power Systems best practices document was recently updated.

Two Worthwhile Webinars

The monthly AIX Virtual User Group meetings are a great resource. Even if you can't tune into the live webinars, the replays are typically available a few days after the session. Subject matter experts from IBM and elsewhere cover a wide range of products and technologies. Recent presentation topics include PowerAI, the AC922  and the new HMC interface. Although I've linked to the presentation materials, I recommend you also listen to the session replays, which can be found on the homepage. The AIX Virtual User Group replay archives go to 2008, with presentations going back to 2007. Much if not most of this information remains relevant today.

Another webinar series originates from the U.K. The format is similar to that of the AIX Virtual User Group, and again, quality, in-depth information is provided on a variety of topics. The archives are here. The U.K. group has recently covered PowerAI, the Cloud Management Console and the enhanced HMC GUI  (this latter session includes a demonstration).

The Case for Keeping Up

It may sound trite, but in our line of work, there is always more to learn. Hopefully you'll find value in the information I've cited. Even if some of this material isn't currently relevant to your job, you never know when you may find yourself in a meeting or in a discussion with a colleague and be asked for your two cents about cloud or machine learning or any number of subjects. Obviously our day-to-day responsibilities are substantial, but I believe that informing ourselves about what's new and what's changing is worth the time and effort.

Rob McNelly is a Senior AIX Solutions Architect for Meridian IT Inc. and a technical editor for IBM Systems Magazine. He is a former administrator for IBM. Rob can be reached at rob.mcnelly@gmail.com.



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