BLOG: Upgrade Planning for IBM Power Enterprise Pools

June 9th, 2022 BLOG: Upgrade Planning for IBM Power Enterprise Pools

Ron Gordon
Director, IBM Power Systems

There are two technologies in IBM Power Systems that allow a cluster of servers to share processor and memory resources between them. The first is Power Enterprise Pools 1.0 (EP1.0), also known as Mobile Cores and Mobile Memory, which allows in a defined cluster the ability to dynamically move the activations of cores and memory interchangeably between those servers. This allows you through administrative actions to move compute resources to different servers to match the workload requirements without having to purchase the maximum compute resources on each server to match the maximum workload requirement. This capability is available on mid-range clusters of POWER8 850s and POWER9 950s and on enterprise clusters of POWER8 870s and 880s and POWER9 980s and POWER10 1080s, with the restriction of support for only N and N-1 technologies in the cluster.

The second technology, Power Enterprise Pools 2.0 (EP2.0), is a utility pricing/cost model that allows a cluster of IBM Power Systems servers to have a “base” acquisition cost for cores and memory where the “base” cores and memory is defined by the customer from their expected workload demand. While this “base” is usually less than total system capability, each system will have all resources fully activated. For example, on a cluster of Power Systems 1080s, the total aggregate cores of all servers might be 120 but the “base” may be set at 80 cores. Then, as usage demand exceed the 80 cores “base”, there is a per-minute usage charge of the additional cores used from the 40 cores present in the aggregate pool of 120 core resources. No administration is needed to accomplish this flux of core resources.

These capabilities, EP1.0 and EP2.0, are being used today with great success to achieve cost savings and administrative time reductions. They have basically replaced the IBM Capacity on Demand (COD) functionality; however, COD still exists, and it continues to have a purpose for those customers needing low cost, low usage of dynamic resource needs.

Before I continue, here’s a quick EP refresher on supported POWER system levels and operating systems:

  • EP1.0 supports POWER8, POWER9, and POWER10 mid-range (coming soon) and enterprise servers
  • EP2.0 supports POWER9 and POWER10 systems (and those coming soon) on the Enterprise and Mid-range systems, as well as the Scale Out. POWER9 G models have only cores enablement for EP2.0.
  • Both EP1.0 and EP2.0 support AIX, IBM i, and Linux.


Expansion of Pools and Migration with POWER10


With the availability of POWER10 1080 and the coming POWER10 Mid-range and Scale Out systems, EP1.0 or EP2.0 (or COD) users should be aware that there is planning required to define the pools and to do migration with the new POWER10 technology. There is one common premise regardless of EP1.0 and EP2.0: The pool of servers will only support N and N-1 technologies. So, if you want to have a pool that includes POWER10 1080s, then that pool cannot have POWER8 technology-based systems regardless of the presence of POWER9 systems. Since EP2.0 did not support POWER8 systems, this then is primarily an EP1.0 situation.


EP1.0 Mobile Cores/Memory – Adding POWER10 Systems to the Pool


There are too many EP1.0 mobile cores/memory cases to cover in this blog article, but here are the basics assuming you wish to add POWER10 systems to the EP1.0 pool.

  1. Mobile the POWER8 cores/memory to the POWER9 making sure the new mobile cores/memory will fit on the P9.
  2. Evacuate the POWER8 systems from the pool. If there are remaining mobile cores/memory, the P8s can run outside the pool and used for productive work.
  3. Add the POWER10 to the pool with mobile core requirements and update the pool definition files.
  4. Balance the POWER9s and the POWER10s accordingly by moving the cores/memory.
  5. If desired, you can now evacuate the POWER9 and have a pool of all POWER10s.
  6. No POWER9s? Create a new EP1.0 of POWER10s. LPM the workload from P8 Pool to the P10 pool. Terminate (or keep) the POWER8 pool. But recognize you cannot mobile between the different pools.
  7. Remember to check with the leasing company if appropriate, as you may have to return the servers as originally configured.


EP2.0 Utility Pricing Model


Since EP2.0 is only POWER9 and POWER10, adding/migrating has fewer cases to consider.

  1. Add the POWER10 to the EP2.0 pool.
  2. If you want both the POWER10 and the POWER9s in the pool, then update the pool file and you are done.
  3. If you want to evacuate the POWER9s, realize you can move Base from the POWER9s to Base on the POWER10 with a 1 for 3 ratio at no charge.
  4. Evacuate the POWER9.
  5. Recognize any credits you have will not be lost and are all still available.


Migrating from EP1.0 to EP2.0


What if I want to migrate from EP1.0 to EP2.0? First remember that compute resources (cores and memory) have a charge for the physical cores and memory. Then there are activation charges which “turn them on”. For activations, there are static activations (on-on), mobile activations (you use these to support EP1.0), and “Base” (you use these to enable EP2.0 utility usage/billing). The remaining cores that are not static nor mobile are “off” but you could COD them “on” temporarily. Core and memory in EP2.0 are all “on” for each server in the pool and the “base” cores/memory are “on” and are used freely. If resource usage exceeds the “base” resource, charges are incurred on a per-minute basis. In conversion from EP1.0 to EP2.0, there is a fee to change mobile cores/memory to “base”. From “nothing” to EP2.0, there is a charge to convert static to base. You can also directly purchase “base” with new systems. There is no premium for doing this after installation and the upgrade delta is the same delta as if originally acquired as base.

So, upgrade from EP1.0 to EP2.0 as follows:

  1. Create an EP2.0 pool.
  2. Upgrade the EP1.0 systems cores and memory to base as desired.
  3. Evacuate the systems from the EP1.0.
  4. Add the systems to EP2.0.
  5. Install the Cloud Management Console (CMC) environment.
  6. Purchase EP2.0 credits in IBM Entitled Systems Support (ESS) or use the now available post billing option.


Closing Comments & Considerations


In closing, the migration and addition of POWER10 to pools is not difficult, but it does require planning. Remember that EP2.0 does require the Cloud Management Console (CMC). I believe that EP2.0 is the best economic model for Power Systems, especially if you have 2 or more servers. (One plus a DR box is a good example of “yes” to EP2.0). Enterprise Pools 2.0 has minimum of one base core and 256GB of memory which makes entry easy, and you can always change base numbers once the environment is established and running. As you begin the analysis, a good starting point for base may be the average utilization of your partitions. Also, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND utilizing IBM Lab Services for initial planning and implementation and possible migrations. And with new Power Enterprise and Mid-Range systems, you have access to these services for no charge through the IBM Power Cloud Rewards program.


More Information

Mainline is a Platinum level IBM Business Partner – the highest partnership level in the IBM PartnerWorld program. We have heavily invested in the technical skills and certifications necessary to provide the top level of services and solutions to our customers for all IBM hardware and software products, including maintenance and software support services.

For further assistance with IBM Power Systems EP1.0 or EP2.0 or additional information on any Power Systems whether on-premises, in hybrid cloud environments, or in cloud environments, please reach out to me, to your Mainline representative, or contact us here with any questions.



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