IBM Power Systems Review

Runs our resilient data systems, our high-end databases, stuff that can't go down

How has it helped my organization?

Right now we use Power for high-end AIX systems. We're always looking to leverage what we're using. We have some high-end customers on our P8s. The one thing that makes life easier is it's very dependable.

What is most valuable?

Power runs our resilient data systems, our high-end databases, stuff that can't go down. I enjoy the isolation factor, that it's not Linux, but then again it can be challenging to keep up. The Linux and VMware stuff, the administration seems to be a little easier than Power, but that's why I'm employed.

What needs improvement?

Licensing has always been an issue, but with IBM machines a serial number is licensed with support. If you don't pay for it, you don't get it. 

I would like to see firmware available to all of the systems. We have some older systems that we've taken off support, that we're not going get rid of right now, but I'm not able to legally update the firmware on that. That's just a little nitpick that I have.

I'd like them to make stuff that little bit more seamless, a little bit more user friendly. They have come a long way since the early days. You can deploy a system right now in minutes compared to days, in the early days. But that's what growth is all about.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is very seamless. The new enhanced GUI for the HMCs make adding partitions a lot easier than the classic view, so it's not as involved. I think they're trying to get more like the VMware side where you can add a machine, edit the properties, and turn it on, and go about your business.

We have some AIX 6 that we cannot upgrade because the customers will not let us upgrade it, and we've had to purchase extended support. We put everybody on 7 where we can. I personally have not seen the benchmarking between 6 and 7, but normally people are very comfortable when their mission-critical applications are on it. I'm comfortable with it. I'm comfortable with AIX in general, for mission-critical systems.

If I'm running a web server, or something I don't care if it goes down, I'll put that on Linux. But if I'm running a high-end database, accessing health records at 1000 transactions per second, I want it on a tried and true, supported operating system on high-end hardware.

How is customer service and technical support?

We have CTS support. They're very white-glove, so I think it's top-notch.

How was the initial setup?

I haven't had any experience in that. Normally we get a P7 box and it runs P7 forever; and we get a P8 box, and it runs P8.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We're an IBM/VMware shop, so all of our AIX runs on Power, and everything else is going to run on VMware. We're a composite type shop.

What other advice do I have?

In terms of how Power uniquely positions us in the healtcare industry, it is an industry that has very little downtime. Nobody likes to take any downtime at all. The Power systems, they're very dependable. We can normally depend on them not going down. We have had a few issues here and there, but for the most it's a set-and-forget type thing.

They don't like to release the systems for updates, unless it's critical and I have to take it away from them. That's the thing I like the Power Systems, that they're just extremely dependable.

I think they've really started down a good path with the HMC; making people go to the enhanced GUI. I think not everybody embraces change, but once they get a hang of the new HMC, there's a lot of cool features in there.

In terms of IBM being a market leader for servers, obviously with the advent of Open Source, and Linux, and virtualization - while I don't do a lot of hardware - I think they're the "big boys." I think they probably need to be more vigilant about VMware and the like. VMware is not exactly eating their lunch because they're two separate business models. Obviously IBM is the leader. But, you can tell that other companies are nipping at their heels, and they want into that market share.

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