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Setting the Record Straight on Power Systems

Rob McNelly dispells some of the common myths about Power Systems vs. x86.

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There's an IBM-produced blog about Power Systems servers that's worth bookmarking. This introduction explains it well:

Here are some of the most common myths we hear in the marketplace today:

  • Power has no cloud strategy.
  • Migrating to Power is costly, painful and risky.
  • x/86 is the de-facto industry standard and Power will soon be obsolete.
  • Power solutions are more expensive than x/86 solutions.
  • Linux on Power operates differently and is managed differently than Linux on x/86.
  • x/86 is the best platform to run SAP HANA, Nutanix and open source databases like Mongo DB, MariaDB and EnterpriseDB.
  • Reliability, availability and serviceability (RAS) features are no longer a differentiator because every platform is the same.
  • Oracle software runs better on Exa and/or Sparc systems than it does on Power.
  • Power is a closed, proprietary architecture.
  • The OpenPOWER Foundation is weak and not really important to anyone in the industry.
There are regular updates. In particular, I loved this post from March that addresses the perception that x86 is the industry standard:

To begin breaking down this myth, let’s consider how IBM Power Systems stands apart from x86.

Designed for enterprise workloads. x86 is designed to accommodate multiple markets and design points, from smartphones to laptops, PCs and servers. Power Systems, on the other hand, is designed for high-performance, enterprise workloads like data analytics, artificial intelligence and cloud-native apps and microservices—workloads that are driving innovation and digital transformation in organizations today.

Targeting new market segments. Over the years, x86 vendors shipped a lot of systems into commodity markets, but there have always been market segments it couldn’t get because of the limitations of its general-purpose architecture.

Today, a growing number of market segments where just a few years ago x86 was the only solution available, are facing strong competition from Power Systems. Consider the number of clients who bought x86-based solutions for SAP HANA, Nutanix and open source databases like MongoDB, EDB PostgreSQL and Redis, to name a few. They didn’t buy x86 solutions because they were the best choice; they bought them because they were the only choice. SAP HANA is an excellent example. 2,500-plus clients now run this application on Power Systems instead of x86.

These applications, plus the rising demand for data analytics, HPC infrastructure and cognitive solutions like AI, machine learning and deep learning, may be the most cogent examples of market segments x86 is struggling to keep.

On the forefront of high-performance computing. In addition, two of the world’s most powerful supercomputers are running IBM POWER9: the US Department of Energy’s Summit and Sierra at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

Growing revenue. Far from being pushed out of the market, IBM Power Systems has enjoyed five consecutive quarters of growth driven by client adoption of the latest generation of Power processors, IBM POWER9.

As I said, there's much more. I cite this information because, in our world, perception is often reality. As users of IBM solutions, we need to be doing our part to help educate those around us about the real-world value of Power Systems.

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