BLOG: IBM Power Systems February 2021 Hardware Announcements

March 16th, 2021 BLOG: IBM Power Systems February 2021 Hardware Announcements

Ron Gordon
Director » Power Systems

I recently authored a blog on fourth quarter 2020 IBM Power System infrastructure software releases and their corresponding functionality enhancements. Take a look at that blog if you missed the announcements because of the Covid-19 pandemic. I’d like to follow that up with the latest IBM Power Systems hardware announcements made in February 2021 which not only benefit from the 2020 Power Systems software updated releases but are also supported by previous IBM Systems software offerings.

Some of the IBM Power Systems hardware announcements have availability dates while other announcements are IBM Statements of Direction (SOD) with availably dates not published and, as IBM states, IBM can change product plans based on changing circumstances. Some of the IBM announcement materials were not very clear on product announcements and SODs, so I will review these separately to avoid confusion. I’ll start with what was announced, which is a combination of hardware and hardware support items like terms and conditions and software support that has firm availability dates.


IBM Power Private Cloud Rack Solution.

This offering is supporting the customer need to support a rapid deployment of POWER9 based Power Systems based on the RedHat containerization development environment in conjunction with a Kubernetes container based platform deployment environment. Two different solutions are based on Power Systems 922 servers with either internal storage or the IBM Storage 5200 system and Red Hat OpenShift. Solution one has as single IBM Power 922 with internal storage that is a not supported for a production environment and the other offering is composed of 3 OBM Power 922 servers and 5200 storage for production use since it meets the Kubernetes requirement of 3 nodes. What makes these offerings a “solution” is that they also come with IBM Lab Services to interact with the customer in a workshop to determine the specific hardware and software configuration and tooling needed to support the customer application modernization requirements and this information is sent to the IBM Plant to assemble and preload the environment for rapid deployment in the customers environment. Besides Red Hat OpenShift, IBM Cloud Pak for Data can also be selected and pre-loaded. For those modernizing to containerized micro services development, this solution can save several weeks of server provisioning including the software ordering, and implementation, at a special “solution” price. Again, this is called the IBM Power Private Cloud Rack Solution which is sometimes shortened to PPC if you see that in print.


Expanded Red Hat capabilities on IBM PowerVS.

If you embrace the IBM Power Private Cloud Rack solution you obviously are looking to on premise application modernization development and deployment. But many customers may also want to take advantage of hybrid cloud computing environment for containerized development and execution. To enable this, IBM has announced the availability of Red Hat OpenShift on the IBM Power Virtual Servers in the IBM Cloud, also known as PowerVS. This will allow the Red Hat OpenShift development and deployment to be on premise (the PPC solution) and then use the PowerVS environment for deployment. This allows customer choice when moving to the application modernization paradigm as to their desired development and production strategic plan. IBM is also working with other ecosystem partners to further expand PowerVS with other Linux distributions and is also investigating bare metal servers in the IBM Cloud.


Expanded Red Hat Functionality provided on IBM Power Systems.

Red Hat runtimes and newly certified Ansible Content Collections are now available on Power System to provide productivity gains for system administrators and consistency within the enterprise between Power systems and x86 systems development.


IBM Extends Support of the Dynamic Capacity offering on Power Servers.

Also known as EP2.0, the payment for dynamic usage model is enabled on distinct pools (clusters) of IBM Power Systems 922G and 924G models as well as the Enterprise 950 and 980. While these pools individually can only contain 922/924s or 950s or 980s. This could lead to 3 different pools that have to be managed separately from a cost allocation perspective. Customers have wanted to manage them consistently using the Dynamic Capacity pricing model from a single amount of credits, which previously was not enabled. What has changed is that the pools now can individually contain up to 2000 virtual machines (LPARs) and the purchased credits can used against all the pools defined in an enterprise regardless of what machine types are in the individual pools. This enables the single purchase of EP2.0 credits and selectable deployment of those credits from a single amount of manageable credits. This provides an ease of management of credit usage and credit purchase.


IBM Extends support of IBMi 7.1 both on Prem and in PowerVS.

To continue to address customer running IBM 7.1 business applications who were facing an upgrade to IBMi 7.4., IBM has an extended support extension for IBMi 7.1 thru April 2024 on POWER9 systems; IBM has announced an extended support extension for IBMi 7.1 on POWER8 systems thru April 2022; IBM has announced an extended support extension for IBMi 7.1 on POWER7+ systems thru December 2021. This also applies to the POWER9 systems in the IBM Cloud which are the POWER9 based 980s and 922s and the POWER8 based 880. This extension for IBMi 7.1 extended support has the following restrictions: for POWER9 922A and 922G models require use of VIOS and the 4 core models are not supported, the 980 model again require VIOS. Additionally, IBM will now have IBMi 7.1 as a selectable OS option on the PowerVS cloud servers.

Now let me switch to IBM Statements of Directions;



IBM says there will be an AIX 7.3 release in the future. This release, when announced and available, will support POWER10 base Power Systems as well as POWER8, and POWER9 systems. This is a good announcement since the previous term was AIX Next. Keeping AIX to the AIX7.x means there is no version change which would normally require all software venders to re-certify their code on the AIX Next, including IBM software, Oracle, EPIC, SAP, etc. As a side note, the AIX environment is benefiting from Ansible automation and the availability of playbooks in Galaxy as well as AIX libraries. I expect this will continue and expand in AIX 7.3.


SOD: Dynamic Hybrid Cloud Credits.

This IBM SOD states that IBM will create a new IBM EP2.0 credit type that can be used to support both on-prem EP2.0 enabled pools as well as be used to pay for IBM PowerVS cloud usage and subscriptions.


SOD: IBM support of RedHat Linux and SUSE Linux in Dynamic Capacity usage in EP2.0.

When IBM announces the support of RHEL and SLES in Dynamic Capacity EP2.0 pools, customers will be able to support Linux as well as AIX and IBMi in their EP2.0 implementations, eliminating a key restriction which reduced the value of Dynamic Capacity pricing and increased operations management. With the growth in Linux Open Source and key ISVs moving to Linux as well as modern containerization micro-services model, this move is critical to support Power Systems customers consistently with AIX, IBMi and Linux.


Additional Information

That is quite a list of new capabilities and I am sure all of you will have further questions and desire more details on those that apply to you to increase your efficiency, cost controls, and productivity. To learn more, contact your Mainline Account Executive directly, or reach us here. Our team of experts is available to assist you and help you maximize your investments.


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