IBM Power Systems Review

The improved SMT has helped open up boundaries for applications that can use it


What is most valuable?

I can get more work done with less hardware. The SMT that they've improved has really helped open up boundaries for other applications that can use it. The ones that can't, they're still single-threaded, still waiting on the CPU cycle.

How has it helped my organization?

When using it with the virtualization, we've finally gotten to the point of being able to do what VMware VirtualCenter does, but we do it more robustly, a lot faster and probably easier.

What needs improvement?

I don't know yet. We have got scalability, resiliency. We can move it from one system to another.

Licensing is always going to be a problem, because it used to be based on, "This is a CPU, this is the memory, this is your footprint." Now, with virtualization, that one CPU can be carved up 100 different ways, so why should I be charged for that use rather than a single CPU, a single socket? But businesses have to make money.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Power for maybe 15 years; POWER8 since it came out, a couple of years ago.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No we haven't. We pushed it as far as it could go. There have been times I've put maybe 60, 70 machines on a single POWER8 box which, with the poll sharing and the resource sharing, you can do but you have to actually plan it out accordingly.

How are customer service and technical support?

It's like any other support organization. You can get some top-notch people, and then you can get some who you have to escalate. If you don't escalate, you're not going to get the support that you need. But overall, response has been pretty good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Intel was the previous solution. The performance wasn't there. Linux on Power, I believe they're one of the first implementers on it. I think that was under POWER4, when no one knew anything about it. But it worked, worked beautifully. The hard part was I couldn't move that workload from one machine to another because it wasn't available. But it's a lot more robust now.

With Intel, it's a matter of complicated instruction set versus reduced. Using Power we get more scalability, more power, less need for resources, hardware, etc.

How was the initial setup?

It's not as easy as clicking boxes and setting up Windows. You have to actually do a lot of pre-planning, a lot of figuring out whats your workload is, what your footprint is, your memory size.

You can get a person who has never seen it before to be able to do it themselves. With the cloud offering, it's point and click, literally. The resources are there. They tell it what they want, where they want it, how much they want, and click, they have a machine.

What other advice do I have?

I mostly use AIX along with some Linux, POWER8 and POWER7.

It's hard to say how the Power system uniquely positions our company in the industry because we try to do everything. But we usually try to push the Power first. Our company mainly started with strictly iSeries, so you can't run that on Intel. So when Power came out and showed that it was a much better workhorse for the iSeries, it was good. Life was great. Actually, I believe iSeries was virtualizing long before Intel even thought about it. But some of the iSeries guys will tell you, "We don't know what it is."

Regarding the OpenPOWER Foundation, it has offered us a faster way of deploying multiple systems in a shorter amount of time. In the good old days, it would take you a few days just to create one system. Nowadays, you can possibly deploy 10 in the time it would take one.

I consider IBM a market leader in the server sector, compared to Dell and Lenova, because, they have more robust, faster hardware that can be deployed and implemented a lot faster than Intel, even with VMware.

VMware has point and click, but there's a real steep learning curve in your networking, your shared resources, your performance tuning and your troubleshooting.

In order to remain a market leader I would say that IBM needs to stay ahead of the curve. They need to listen to what their customers are saying as far as, "I want this feature or that feature." If it can be done, do it. If it can't, let the customer know. "Hey, we'll look at it and get it in the future."

I would definitely recommend Linux on Power rather than Intel.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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