BLOG: IBM Power Systems – 2021 Year-end Announcement Review

December 13th, 2021 BLOG: IBM Power Systems – 2021 Year-end Announcement Review

Ron Gordon
Director, IBM Power Systems

It has been a busy year for IBM Power Systems (aka IBM Cognitive Systems) with announcements in hardware, software, cloud, and management capabilities. These announcements started early in 2021 and have continued right up through December 2021. As it has been a busy year in many respects, some of these key announcements may have been overlooked. But hopefully, as the year ends, you will have a chance to analyze the updates and use cases and consider implementation of the latest software versions that will undoubtedly increase system capabilities, utilization, scalability, and modernization to improve workload performance. Here is a list of items with an overview that you can review to see how the new supported functionality may apply and affect your environment:

AIX: AIX 7.3 is about to ship and has increased functionality in improved performance for DLPAR actions, which can be significant when dynamically changing partition memory and cores. There is also increased performance through the use of the new NZ-GZIP processes that can increase performance in areas where compression is used, like in LPM and system data stores. There is increased security provided through IPsec supporting data in motion by using NAT-T and IKEV2 and also extending logical volume encryption to additional devices including rootvg. There is increased file and file system capacity now up to 128TB for growing data needs as well as support for persistent memory in AIX, which was previously only supported in Linux via PowerVM. Also, there are faster IPL times for large memory LPARs. And don’t let me forget support for 240 cores in the Power Enterprise 1080. As Power Systems are highly used in mission-critical workloads with large memory and compute capacity requirements, these changes in security, performance, and management could provide new levels of support that are desirable by many customers.

AIX packaging has also been modified. The AIX Standard Edition is still just AIX; however, AIX Enterprise Edition has been changed to include PowerVC for Private Cloud, Tivoli Monitoring, PowerSC including MFA, and VM Recovery Manager HA. The Enterprise Cloud Edition, with or without AIX, adds to this AIX EE content Aspera, VM Recovery Manager DR, and the Cloud Management Console. AIX has also introduced a 1 to 3 year subscription capability that may be attractive to cloud users where permanent licenses could prove too costly and an OpEx model is desired.

IBM i: IBM i for Power Systems continues with the latest 7.3 and 7.4 releases with improved DB2, security updates to address the growing cybersecurity concerns, , EUI changes for useableity, DB2 Mirror distance requirements improvements, and a Mobility License to enable IBM i on-prem licenses to be “moved” to the IBM PowerVS cloud to save re-licensing costs and support multiple IBMi cloud environment needs. There is also an outlook for IBM i 7.5 by 1H2022 possibly.

HA & DR: IBM System Mirror 7.2.6 will ship with continued improvements for useability in the user interface. (IBM seems to be converging all UI to their new Carbon definition to provide a consistent look and feel across all the Power products like PowerVM, Power SC, Power HA, VMR, etc.). The Power HA product GUI will now support cloud GLVM functions such as add/remove, tune, encryption, compression and monitoring as well as streamlining cache resizing and dynamic add/remove of volumes and will have a DR sizing tool. PowerHA will now support up to 8 clusters as well as supporting upload/download of Spectrum Virtualize clones to COS in the IBM Cloud.

VM Recovery Manager will have minor improvements in pre-discovery checks and configuration error validation. Also, the GUI can now support up to 1000 VMs. If you require an HA or DR solution but do not need all the capabilities that PowerHA offers, you should take a look at VMR, as this is being adopted more and more by customers to support simpler and easier HA and DR functionality. VM Recovery Manager supports AIX, IBM i and Linux VMs

Virtualization: Power VM 3.1.3 has shipped and there is a minor SP that will ship soon. The major support enhancement in 3.1.3 is to support Power Enterprise 1080 and improved SSP capability. While the 3.1.1 and the 3.1.2 releases will not support the Power Enterprise 1080 today, planned support for the Enterprise 1080 is 2Q2022 in these releases. The published roadmap for PowerVM shows that PowerVM 2.2.6 is at End of Support and all users of 2.2.6 should upgrade to 3.1.x quickly or incur extended maintenance costs.

PowerVC is becoming more widely used with a 40% usage rate in IBM Power Systems. PowerVC’s current release is 2.0.2.1 and provides full life cycle management of Power AIX, IBM i, and Linux VMs. Also, PowerVC provides an easy migration format and capability to migrate captured OVA images to the IBM Cloud PowerVS servers, which is also managed by PowerVC. Some of the latest support elements of PowerVC 2.0 are that PowerVC can now manage up to 10,000 VMs, contains MFA support, supports persistent memory, creates volume clones for backup, Power Systems Enterprise 1080 is supported, continues dynamic resource optimization, single click server evacuation, and has a new Redbook for support. And PowerVC is included in AIX EE and ECE.

Security: PowerSC now includes the MFA product…no longer is there a need to order and install two products to support the ever-increasing cybersecurity demands. The MFA product inclusion will be supported by PowerVC and other Power software products.

HMC: The current physical HMC is the 7063-CR2. What is being consumed more recently in increasing popularity due to management, costs, and availability is the Virtual HMC, which is the same software as the HMC appliance but runs on customer x86 hardware on VMware, Xen, or KVM (5765-HMW) or on Power servers (5765-HMB) on PowerVM. No OS is needed as the OS is included and imbedded. Remember, the vHMC cannot manage the server it is installed on, which makes the x86 version a consideration.

Power in the IBM Cloud: PowerVS has made a statement that they hope to have the Power Enterprise 1080 in the IBM Cloud by 1H2022, which will provide greater cloud capabilities for production applications like SAP and SAP HANA, as well as a forward look into EPIC non-prod and possibly production. Recent advancements to the PowerVS environment are VPNaaS where the customer can, at a very low cost, connect their on-prem VPN network into the PowerVS environment. Also, VTL (virtual tape library) can be configured and installed into IBM i environments in PowerVS to support a virtual tape environment for backup and DR. These changes are demonstrating that the IBM PowerVS environment is changing to support high-priority customer requirements. Now what can we do to get storage replication????

Enterprise Pools: Enterprise pools come in mobile cores (EP1.0) and dynamic usage (EP2.0). While EP1.0 is still widely used, I believe there will be a conversion to EP2.0 by most customers because of efficiencies and cost management. IBM today is offering attractive upgrade options allowing migration from EP1.0 to EP2.0. EP2.0 has recently announced support for Linux in addition to AIX and IBM i and also has created usage credits that can be used in dynamic usage of EP2.0 as well as in PowerVS. This supports the story of hybrid cloud where on-prem private cloud using EP2.0 can interact with PowerVS and share metrics and credits for financial optimization and management.

 

Summary

2021 has been a busy year for Power Systems with Power10, AIX, IBM i, and other announcements and enhancements. While this blog offers a quick overview of the technical updates and high-performance capabilities being added to the Power Systems portfolio, it can also seem like a daunting task to dig deeper to see how they apply and support your requirements. I invite you to reach out to me or your Mainline representative for further information and, in some cases, demos of these new capabilities.

 

More Information

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

 

 

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