How the Power Systems Stack Makes Business Transformation Possible
IBM Vice Presidents Sam Werner, Steve Sibley and Calline Sanchez describe how IBM Storage, Power Systems servers and Lab Services combine to offer clients the best value.
Steve Sibley Vice President, Power Systems Offering Management, IBM: Calline Sanchez Vice President, IBM Systems Lab Services: Sam Werner Vice President, Storage Offering Management, IBM , Image by Hollis Bennett
By Shirley S. Savage04/09/2020
Cloud, AI, machine learning and security are challenges for organizations as they evolve to meet customer and market force demands. Many organizations have experimented with these and are now ready to use them to transform their enterprises.
Cloud, especially hybrid multicloud, is a focus for many IBM Power Systems* clients whose companies want to leverage capacity in a public cloud while converting their on-premises infrastructure to be more cloud-like to best meet end users’ needs. It means putting mission-critical workloads in a cloud-deployment model, many of which run on Power Systems servers.
As more clients move to hybrid multicloud, the need to automate becomes greater. Because cloud enables speed and simplicity, automation becomes a focus. For instance, firmware for VMs needs to be updated at the OS level automatically rather than manually.
“The importance of automation is going to rise and POWER* development is putting an emphasis on automation to meet this growing need,” says Steve Sibley, vice president, Power Systems Offering Management, IBM. “A key theme for 2020 and beyond is making operations more cloud-like and automating them underneath.” For instance, POWER clients will be able to use the Red Hat Ansible* automation platform to achieve this.
Automation in conjunction with technologies such as AI, machine learning and modern analytics allows clients to work smarter. “By integrating AI into the business, organizations can gain real-time insights from data to create a competitive advantage and a better experience for customers,” says Sam Werner, vice president, Storage Offering Management, IBM.
“Clients don’t have to rip and replace. Clients trust the Power Systems platform to run core workloads and to evolve to handle new technologies and capabilities.”
Storage Remains a Focus
Whether the data is in the cloud or on premises, storage is a key component. “Applications can’t be moved to a single or hybrid cloud environment without considering data requirements: where that data will sit and where it will move,” Werner says.
What’s needed is a scalable, single source of data that can be accessed by all of the applications, such as a data lake. IT must develop a strategy so storage and accessibility can scale as the data and business grow.
Deployment also needs to be consistent, especially because different workloads have different storage requirements. Transactional clients want low latency and high resiliency, for example.
Clients running SAP HANA might not realize the storage needs that this in-memory database requires. That’s because business operations directly tied to the application rely on access to data. To satisfy these clients’ needs, the Power Systems platform has enabled snapshots of the database to give the client a point-in-time copy.
For clients with big data lakes (i.e., a repository of data in its raw form), the metadata management capabilities of the Power Systems platform can offer a comprehensive category of data. This allows clients to quickly search billions of records in seconds to find data for the next iteration of training for an AI model. IBM Visual Insights integrates directly with IBM storage software and lets the client pull in the data catalog rather than searching the storage. “That’s the kind of integration we’re doing to simplify storage management,” Werner says.
Storage also needs to be resilient to cyberattacks. Increasingly, both old and new data is targeted by ransomware attacks. Data can be protected by encryption, ensuring it can’t be accessed by unauthorized users. Should a breach occur, backups, air gaps and snapshots play a crucial role in data recovery. In the event of a data breach or data corruption, the client can quickly recover the data and continue operations.
Data may be growing fast, but IT budgets aren’t. As a result, storage innovation is helping drive down the dollar-per-terabyte cost. In addition, storage administrators are being asked to manage more data and need to be more productive. “The big challenge is making storage easier to manage within complex environments,” says Werner.
Tap Into a Well of Expertise
Storage considerations can be complicated. That’s when calling on experts in IBM Systems Lab Services becomes a wise decision.
Lab Services is a trusted advisor for IBM clients and has skills to help clients no matter how their infrastructure is configured. “This is especially important today as clients seek to manage multiple public and private clouds, strive to gain actionable business insights using AI and incorporate rapid application iteration with containers,” says Calline Sanchez, vice president, IBM Systems Lab Services.
Clients also are challenged by core business workloads that are large in scope and steeped in regulatory requirements. “We are helping clients gain extra value out of those workloads with container-based apps that connect to existing workloads,” she says.
In this trusted advisor role, Lab Services consults with clients to identify their business challenges. This discovery period may take several meetings. Once the discovery work is completed, Lab Services consultants help clients address the challenges they’ve identified and implement recommendations for servers, storage, cloud and security.
Lab Services teams are knowledgeable about IBM platforms as well as other providers. “When we walk into a data center, there can be differing kinds of servers and storage. Our job is to ensure that everything works well together for the benefit of the client,” Sanchez notes.
“We are helping clients gain extra value out of those workloads with container-based apps that connect to existing workloads.”
Benefits of Power Systems Architecture
Evolving applications and data environments present new challenges for IT, underlining the need for a resilient, flexible and always available infrastructure for compute, storage and networking. “IBM endeavors to provide simplicity and integration for our clients for their key workloads such as SAP HANA,” Sibley says.
Further, clients are modernizing their application landscapes to include containers and microservices, merging those capabilities with traditional applications. With the acquisition of Red Hat, IBM provides a foundation for enterprise clients to deploy containers using open source. “IBM Cloud Paks* put IBM middleware and capabilities on top of Red Hat OpenShift* benefits containerization of enterprise-class applications,” notes Sibley. IBM Multicloud Manager enables clients to manage their VMs, traditional workloads and emerging microservices from a single point.
IBM takes pride in creating OSes that work seamlessly across a single platform, whether it be AIX*, IBM i or Linux*. Clients running a traditional SAP environment on AIX can bring SAP HANA on board to shift workloads from the traditional relational database to SAP HANA’s database without a hitch. “Clients don’t have to rip and replace,” Sibley says. “Clients trust the Power Systems platform to run core workloads and to evolve to handle new technologies and capabilities,” he says.
The Power Systems platform remains focused on helping clients transform their infrastructure to take advantage of new trends without losing sight of the economic efficiency and agility that clients need. From the server stack to storage to expert advice, clients can rest assured that IBM has their needs in mind.
Shirley S. Savage is a writer and communications strategist. She's fascinated by tech, science, finance, energy and the way innovative people think.