BLOG: How IBM Power Users can Experience the IBM Cloud Free of Charge!

November 5th, 2021 BLOG: How IBM Power Users can Experience the IBM Cloud Free of Charge!

Ron Gordon
Director, IBM Power Systems

While the IBM Cloud is not new, the capabilities of the IBM Cloud and the capabilities of Power Systems in the IBM Cloud for potential new users may be unknown. AWS and Azure cloud services are being used today by companies worldwide. According to Amazon, the number of active AWS users exceeds 1 million, with small and mid-sized companies making up most of that user base. Interestingly, enterprise-sized companies only account for 10% of that total. Microsoft doesn’t publish the number of Azure users, but we know that the adoption rate is up year over year. However, Power Systems users are left short, as AWS and Azure have very little or no capability to match the IBM Cloud Power Systems application cloud hosting capabilities. For businesses wishing to implement mission critical workloads, high availability backups, disaster recovery, or data archives from Power Systems to a cloud solution with enterprise-class service and the latest Power Systems, the IBM Cloud is the way to go.

There is a lot of information available about the Power Systems environment in the IBM Cloud. You can check out several blogs on the Mainline site and you can easily find information from IBM or by doing a simple Google search. Basically, you can implement AIX, Linux, or IBMi solutions to match your new or on-premises Power solutions on IBM POWER9 922s or IBM POWER9 980 systems with storage and network access, all secure and highly available with all the features of an enterprise-class cloud platform which most pundits agree are only the IBM Cloud, AWS, Azure, and GCP.


Implementing the IBM Cloud Free of Charge


Most people in the tech world want to investigate and experience new solutions, features, and functions on their own terms, at their own pace. Roll up their sleeves, so to speak. You can certainly read all the information on the IBM websites, read “consultants” articles, and talk to the many users of Power Systems in the IBM Cloud but experiencing the IBM Cloud to see how it compares to your current cloud provider or on-premises solutions in areas like provisioning, management, network and system performance, ease-of-use, security, storage, etc. would prove to be much more inciteful.

IBM has made a no-charge Lite account option available so you or your company can implement and use the IBM Cloud. Let me walk you through the how you can do this. Warning: the free of charge Lite account will support many no-charge applications but currently only supports x86 based systems…what? No Power? Please read on…Even on x86-based systems, you will still benefit from gaining experience with most aspects of the IBM Cloud, with Power provisioning being a simple extra step in your skills attainment.


Creating your IBM Cloud Account


First step is to create an IBM Cloud account. Navigate to this IBM Cloud page from your favorite browser. The tutorial will explain how to obtain the no-charge IBM Cloud account by first creating an ID for yourself, which will become your logon and access to the IBM Cloud. A word of caution here: When creating the no-charge Lite account, if you or your company already has access to the IBM Cloud, you should not use your email for that account; it may be best to use a non-company, private email.


Choosing Applications and Services


Then as the tutorial instructs, go to the IBM Cloud catalog of applications by clicking Catalog on the top menu bar of the IBM Cloud main screen. You are now seeing the IBM Catalog of applications and services, presented as tiles (that’s what they call those squares) available to you. You will also see that many of the applications are labeled FREE meaning you can use them with defined capabilities for no-charge or LITE, which also means they are no-charge when connected to a LITE account. The Lite applications or services may be limited in scope (for example, Cloud Object Storage may be limited to 5 GB) which for a fee can be expanded to full capabilities. You can scroll through over 300 applications including many Watson capable solutions. You can always access the IBM Cloud with your account ID (email and password used to create your no charge Lite account) and look at the Catalog and choose applications from the “tiles” and add them to your account access.

I recommend that you enter this Cloud easily before you become an advanced user. So, rather than picking an application first, I recommend choosing “COMPUTE” in the left navigation bar. Scroll down and choose the check box for LITE. Do not check the other options as those most likely carry a charge and use funny words you can learn later. You will now see the compute tiles. Click on the “Cloud for Education” tile. Then choose the top choice as the others have expanded capabilities and will incur a charge and require a credit card entry.

“Cloud for Education” is a no-charge Virtual Machine (VM) and is specifically for an x86 VM running in a multi-tenant environment with 2 virtual CPUs, 8 GB RAM, and 200 GB storage in the IBM Dallas Cloud datacenter. While this is not a Power Systems instance, you have now experienced how to access the IBM Cloud, create an account, and use the catalog to provision an instance. This would be the same process if the instance was a Power VM but at this time Power Systems are not available free of charge. As most people are familiar with x86 systems with VMs managed by VMware, you can now go back to the tutorial and follow the link for “Tutorials for Lite Accounts” and/or “Getting Started with apps” which could be the Free/Lite apps in the catalog or provisioning the VM you just created. (You can also get a Lite account and access the IBM Quantum computer…but I have not yet tried that and Quantum is currently far out on the horizon for commercial computing.)


A Few Tips


  • This Lite account will expire after 30 days of inactivity.
  • No credit card is needed to open the account. If you are asked to enter a credit card number, you have gone outside the scope of the Lite account.
  • Most of the applications run in their own environment and do not need a provisioned compute instance. You can upload apps to your provisioned server and access it by your instances’ IP address.
  • The IBM Cloud has many learning tutorials which can be searched from the main IBM Cloud page under DOCs which is right next to Catalog in the top nav bar.

While there are many advanced services and apps available in the IBM Cloud, the intention of this blog was to provide some guidance to get started without incurring any charges. Remember you cannot break the cloud…my objective was to give you a free experience…but be a little careful as I believe you really want a “free” experience.

For further assistance and information on modernization with IBM Cloud, Power Systems in the cloud, or hybrid cloud or cloud infrastructure, please reach out to me, to your Mainline representative, or contact us here with any questions..

You may be interested in:

BLOG: Security 101 in the IBM Cloud

BLOG: IBM Power Virtual Servers in the IBM Cloud – March 2021 Update

Webinar Replay: AI and Cloud Briefing with IBM Steve Sibley

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