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Upgrade to POWER8 For Cost of Ownership Savings

George Gaylord
Illustration by Charles Williams

For a CIO, life consists of a parade of people who want things. Developers want more processing power and faster deployment so they can create new apps in a snap. Marketing wants virtual servers provisioned at a moment’s notice to support new campaigns. Analysts want to quadruple the number of queries they can run in a minute. Management wants more profitability. Customers want service and availability. Everybody wants it all right now.

A platform upgrade would make it possible to deliver, but who has the resources for that? The answer is the majority of IT shops.

Simply swapping a POWER7* box for a POWER8* server can deliver cost of ownership savings that let organizations do more at the same IT cost, or even deliver the same amount of processing for significantly less operating expense. And that’s good news for everybody.

True Cost of Ownership

In the digital era, balancing revenues and expenses to meet quarterly projections isn’t enough. Organizations must look beyond the immediate cost of acquisition to overall operation cost—and what that cost buys.

Each successive generation of the Power Systems* platform has focused on the key challenges of its time. The POWER6* processor targeted transaction processing. The POWER7 release massively increased capacity with four-way, simultaneous multithreading and up to 4x the number of cores per chip. The POWER8 processor is built for the era of big data, monster mobile applications and cloud deployment.

“Clients moving to POWER8 technology will get a better return on their IT spend, and many expect to save 50 percent or more in three to five years.”
—George Gaylord, key offering manager, IBM Power Enterprise servers

The POWER8 generation offers faster cores, and massive bandwidth and multithreading capabilities. These are combined with hardware innovations such as multilevel, on-chip caching and the Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (CAPI), a memory fabric that provides a high-speed pipeline to the processor. The functionality delivered by this newest family of servers is just as effective at processing millions of transactions daily as it is at handling big-data analytics. This performance boost even comes at a reasonable cost.

Hardware purchase price is only part of the actual cost of a computing platform. Many software products license by the core, including the Oracle database, IBM WebSphere* and PowerVM* software, and the AIX* and IBM i OSes. In addition, users pay ongoing monthly fees for software subscriptions, support and hardware maintenance, which are also charged on a per-core basis. Multiply maintenance costs over the typical three- to five-year operating lifetime of an enterprise-computing platform, and the aforementioned items can easily dwarf the price of a server. See “Online Tool Calculates Potential Savings,” below, to learn how to compare TCO of a current system with that of a POWER8 box using IBM’s online estimator.

Given this context, the performance boost provided by switching from the POWER7 to the POWER8 platform assumes new importance. “Typically, we get about a 2-to-1 performance improvement per core from a POWER8 processor versus a POWER7 chip from the initial release in 2010,” says George Gaylord, key offering manager, IBM Power* Enterprise servers. “You can view that in two ways. If you’re a growing company, you can move to a POWER8 server and essentially double your system capacity at the same run rate and avoid purchasing more software licenses. Or, if your business is not growing substantially, you can leverage a move to the POWER8 platform to significantly reduce your costs.”

Kristin Lewotsky is a freelance technology writer based in Amherst, N.H.

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