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POWER9 Hardware Supports On-premises Cloud Deployments

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Early adopters were quick to whip out a company credit card and deploy an instance of the public cloud—Amazon Web Services, for instance. But as security breaches continue to make headlines, organizations realize that the accessibility of the public cloud was dampened by concerns that sensitive—and often mission-critical—data could fall into the wrong hands. Either by regulations (e.g., HIPAA or PCI DSS) or by business sense, some types of workloads simply aren’t well-suited for the public cloud.

Yet, organizations that face those data-security challenges don’t have to forego the scalability and accessibility afforded by cloud deployments. Instances of the private cloud allow clients to retain control over their data, while retaining its inherent flexibility.

Built for the Cloud

Private cloud deployments require the right infrastructure—and the IBM POWER9* processor is designed with that type of workload in mind. “The number of threads per core in POWER* chips is double those of popular Intel* processors,” says Mark Terranova, program director, Cloud Competition and Systems Hardware Management, IBM. “In a given period of time, POWER chips can do twice the number of threaded operations, thus providing better price performance for Private Cloud workloads in many cases.”

In August, IBM announced two new IBM Power Systems* servers—the E950 and E980—specifically designed with on-premises cloud workloads in mind. Featuring scalable processors and memory, industry-leading virtualization and provisional capacity on demand, the E950 and E980 are built to handle medium- and large-sized organizations’ data-intensive and high-performance workloads—including those in the cloud.

The E980 is a modular scale-up box with up to 192 POWER9 cores and 64 TB of memory, and can concurrently support AIX*, IBM i and Linux* applications. The E950 allows clients to rapidly respond to changing workloads with IBM PowerVM* virtualization. A fully populated E950 can support up to 16TB of DDR4 memory with a memory bandwidth of 230 Gbps per socket. For more information on the E950 and E980, see “A Closer Look”.

Crossing Clouds With Kubernetes

Some data-sensitive workloads are best-suited for private cloud deployments, but other applications can leverage the endless scalability of the public cloud. With containers and Kubernetes, clients can effortlessly move applications between cloud deployments on IBM infrastructure with IBM PowerVM virtualization and PowerVC manager while at the same time modernizing for containers.

Kubernetes is an open-source system for automating deployment, scaling and management of containerized applications. It helps ensure that clients’ applications run where and when they want them to.

“Kubernetes is the industry- leading way to orchestrate containers,” Terranova says. “All major cloud technology companies have switched their strategy to supply Kubernetes.” IBM identified this trend or need early and delivered Container support last year with IBM Cloud* Private on Power Systems servers.

“The advantages for IBM clients are numerous, but at its core, managing applications with Kubernetes combined with IBM’s contributions to the technology like fat manifest, which adds support for multi-architecture orchestration,” is a feature unique to IBM, he says.

POWER8 Compatibility

Clients who are looking to leverage the artificial intelligence (AI) potential of POWER9 need not scrap their entire data centers, according to Terranova. “The POWER9 processor can run in POWER8* compatibility mode, allowing clients to optimize their investment while moving to containerized applications at their own speed for the newer architectures,” he says.

Moreover, backward compatibility allows clients to leave legacy workloads and databases running on POWER8 infrastructure, while taking advantage of the superior AI training performance of POWER9.

Manage Workloads With Hyperconverged Servers

In 2017, IBM announced a multiyear partnership with Nutanix, a provider of cloud infrastructure. IBM Hyperconverged Systems Powered by Nutanix merge the simplicity of Nutanix software-defined infrastructure with the performance of IBM Power Systems to deliver an on-premises cloud that’s simple to deploy and manage.

Nutanix software-defined infrastructure allows organizations to run their data-intensive, high-performance workloads on the IBM Power Systems platform, while offloading other workloads to x86 boxes. “In my mind, it’s the best platform for mixed mode—POWER and x86—private clouds, with the easiest software to understand and deploy,” Terranova says.

Moreover, Nutanix Hyperconverged Systems brings together compute, storage, virtualization and the connectivity fabric into a single appliance. These appliances can communicate with each other as a single software-defined resource pool.

The concept has its origin with web companies: Traditional infrastructure such as storage area networks couldn’t be deployed quickly enough or managed simply enough to handle explosive growth. Hyperconverged servers offer a building block that makes it easy for clients to buy what they need now and provision additional resources at a future time.

“Clients with skills-gap challenges in on-premises cloud will enjoy the simplicity of Nutanix while getting the full value and reliability of the Power Systems platform for high-performance workloads,” Terranova says.

Your Key to the Cloud

For growing enterprises, a cloud strategy appropriate for all types of workloads isn’t merely a convenience—it’s a requirement to maintain a competitive edge. And having the right servers to handle on-premises cloud deployments is equally as important.

Clients can leverage myriad infrastructure options to achieve the flexibility and scalability of the cloud—and POWER9 processor-based servers should be at the heart of that strategy.

Claire Walling is the managing editor of IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems edition.


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