IBM Continues to Invest in Power Systems and IBM i

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Mark Shearer says investments in Power Systems by IBM and Business Partners like Vision Solutions are paying off in recaptured server market share.


Editor's Note: This article is extracted from the Webcast "The State of Resilience on IBM Power Systems" available free at the MC Webcast Center.


Earlier this month, Vision Solutions sponsored a Webcast on the state of resilience on IBM Power Systems in which Mark Shearer, vice president of marketing communications and sales support for IBM's Systems and Technology Group, shared the podium with Ed Vesely, Vision Solutions' senior vice president of worldwide marketing.


Shearer gave attendees a technology update on where IBM is headed with the Power Systems platform, and Vesely shared the results of his company's second annual "State of Resilience on IBM Power Systems" report that was based on a year-long study of more than 3,500 technical professionals using largely IBM solutions.


In light of the concerns about the future of the IBM i platform, which have led to the formation of groups such as iManifest, I thought it worthwhile to share Shearer's comments with readers of MC Systems Insight. While the below article is based heavily on a transcript of Shearer's presentation, I have edited it for brevity and flow. Because of the material that I had to leave out, and the fact that Mark had a PowerPoint presentation not reproduced in this article, I urge readers to view the recorded Webcast for themselves to get the full impact of his presentation.


Of no less importance, but not included here due to the task of condensing it down into a news article, is Vesely's report on Vision's extensive study of the state of resilience in the IBM midrange market. Among the findings in the Vision study are:


  • There's a trend toward even more aggressive recovery time and recovery point objectives across the Power Systems platform—both IBM i and AIX.
  • IT professionals are recognizing that their companies generally don't have appropriate technologies in place to meet their recovery objectives.
  • Investment in disaster recovery technologies have outpaced those in high availability.
  • Continuous data protection "data rewind" capabilities are gaining support across companies of all sizes.


Again, Vesely's presentation is complete with charts, and I doubt I could do the entire presentation justice in a brief article. Also, hearing him discuss the data after studying it in depth is a far better means of truly understanding the implications. The entire Webcast, which is less than an hour with Shearer consuming the first 30 minutes followed by Vesely discussing resilience, is worth watching.


Following is the edited presentation by Mark Shearer, vice president Marketing Communications and Sales Support for the IBM Systems and Technology Group:


Mark Shearer: We are near the end of a year that has been extraordinary in many different ways. I think many of us have experienced some challenges, but we've also discovered some exciting new opportunities. Today, I want to frame my remarks in the context of IBM's overall Smarter Planet initiative. For some time now, the world has been getting smaller and flatter, enabled by information technologies. The digital and the physical infrastructure of the world are really converging. Computational power in IT systems are becoming attached to things that most of us don't even recognize as computers—our automobiles, shipping containers, livestock, buildings, riverbeds, and more.


The whole world is really becoming more instrumented—nearly a billion transistors for each person on the planet. The world is becoming increasingly interconnected. Almost a third of the world's population is going to be on the Internet by 2011. So virtually all things, all processes in business in all ways of working are becoming increasingly intelligent. Fifteen petabytes of new information are being generated every single day. That is eight times more than the information in all the libraries in the United States today. So as a result of all of this, the whole planet is becoming smarter. That's really great news for business, governments, for enterprise in general. On a smarter planet, we all have the opportunity to think and act in new ways. Now all of this information and IT explosion really drives exponential growth in terms of the need for information systems that are highly reliable, highly flexible, and highly available with absolutely minimal downtime. You may have seen in some of our advertising and editorial, we really believe that this is the story of transformation for business and life for years to come.


I represent IBM's Systems and Technology Group, and the essence of our strategy is we're really trying to set the infrastructure agenda for the industry that is going to support all of these IT demands that the Smarter Planet applications are going to require. We believe that the focus that many of our clients have is really around the business value as they transform their companies. We believe it's our role to help our clients move forward from where they are today to where they want to be. Now, we take a holistic systems view, and our offerings and our strategy are really geared to help our clients reduce their costs, improve the service, and create new services and manage risk in the enterprise. Our business strategy is really the opposite of one size fits all. We provide a broad range of server and storage offerings that clients can use to optimize their diverse workload. We believe that there are fit-for-purpose optimized IT components that can be combined and managed together to create a really robust resilient infrastructure.


One of the very important elements of our investments is in the area of system software—the software that helps our clients virtualize their IT environments, manage them, provide security, energy management, and availability. And our service management capabilities really are delivering the visibility, control, and automation that our clients need to deliver high qualities of service and manage risk and compliance and really maximize the return on investment, thereby accelerating their business growth. We're not just focused on managing IT infrastructure but really also eliminating the server sprawl that many of our clients have been experiencing.


IBM software and services really differentiate our systems in the marketplace because they help provide our clients with the capabilities they need to complete business solutions that are easier to implement. What we're really trying to do is provide our clients with a very clear path to building a dynamic infrastructure that can adapt really quickly as their business needs change. Although I am representing the systems business, our value proposition is our systems, our software, and our services. Many of our competitors don't necessarily have the skills to help implement new systems, or the thought leadership on how to apply technology to business problems going forward, or the middleware that's really required to enable infrastructure and applications.


A cornerstone offering in our systems business is the IBM Power System. It is a foundation element of our product line and is really the heart and soul for our UNIX and IBM i clients.

IBM really has turned the UNIX market upside down in the past 10 years. Sun and HP once vied for the top share while IBM was a distant third. And then came POWER4 that many of you may have heard of by the code name Regatta, which really started to change the game. IBM's share grew steadily over the decade with succeeding generations of POWER microprocessors and new releases of our IBM i and AIX operating systems that were delivering new capabilities that greatly increased systems value to our clients.


In 2005, IBM took the lead in this space, and we have continued to gain share since then. IBM is the only major UNIX vendor to gain revenue share in the past five years, up 12 points while other UNIX players—Sun is down 3.8 points, HP is down 4.3 points. In the latest IDC server revenue share report recently released for third quarter this year shows that IBM maintains the UNIX leadership with about 39.5 percent share, up about 3.8 points year to year. Since POWER6 started to roll out in mid-2007, our growth has accelerated, and we are investing heavily, not just in the POWER hardware architecture and future-generation POWER processors, but also in the AIX and IBM i operating systems, as well as Linux support on our Power platform.


Our clients have really made Power Systems the number one platform in the industry for running UNIX, Linux, and IBM i solutions, and they see leadership performance and scalability, along with a consistent, reliable technology roadmap that stretches back for more than a decade and extends far into the future. And they see innovation not just in our POWER processor technology but in the systems software, including our key operating systems. This really is the new Power equation, and we call it "Performance Plus"—systems that are high-performing, scalable, and modular so workloads can grow without disruption.


Many of you who have been IBM clients for a decade or longer know that we have a 40-year history in providing virtualization that is now embodied in our PowerVM technology. PowerVM is really all about helping our clients dramatically reduce administration costs and consolidating 15, 20, and even 60 competitive UNIX servers onto one or two Power servers. Many of our clients are getting 60 to 80 percent utilization—dramatic improvement in terms of efficiency—and about 65 percent of our POWER6-based systems are now shipping with PowerVM, three times greater than the previous generation of Power systems. Virtualization and the PowerVM capability is really a fundamental part of our Power Systems value proposition.


Our clients that are using Power Systems also can achieve extremely high levels of energy efficiency and reduce their energy costs by as much as 70 to 90 percent. And we do this by delivering more performance per watt than any competitive platform. IBM Active Energy Manager is the system software component that interacts with the hardware to provide unique abilities to manage energy costs and new levels of granularity.


New management capabilities for Power Systems are really keeping pace with these virtualized environments. The current release of IBM Systems Director supports the faster deployment of new services, and it enables users to rapidly adjust the system to accommodate unexpected peaks in user demand.


This combination of the Power hardware and system software really helps provide fundamentally higher degrees of business resiliency and also a roadmap to continuous availability. Power Systems are supported by capabilities like concurrent maintenance and PowerVM live partition mobility that help clients greatly reduce downtime. And of course in the IBM i and AIX environments, Vision Solutions offerings complement our own to help clients build highly resilient IT infrastructures.


Some of our key differentiators in our Power Systems that are helping drive our growth: first, we have excellent leadership in the ability to scale our systems. We are scaling up with our enterprise 64 core Power 595 servers, scaling out with our blade servers and the Power 550 and Power 520, and scaling within the server by exploiting our PowerVM virtualization to consolidate multiple workloads. I think another key differentiator in our Power Systems is PowerVM. It really leads virtualization in the UNIX marketplace, making it the best choice for consolidation of both UNIX and x86 applications. All of our benchmarks today are run with our virtualization hypervisor active, and you don't pay a significant performance penalty for deploying applications in this virtualized environment. This efficiency of virtualization is a fundamental differentiator of PowerVM over other virtualization solutions.


And finally, as we saw in the IDC server share numbers, large numbers of UNIX clients and x86 users are moving application workloads over to Power. They are leveraging IBM expertise in the form of our migration factory teams and financial assistance programs like our Power Rewards program and other tools to help transition to the Power Systems environment in an easy and efficient way. A key part of our value proposition is system software and our core operating systems.


AIX on power is attracting new clients and new workloads. Since we started our "migration factory" capability to help clients transition applications to Power, we've completed over 2,000 engagements during the past quarter; 136 companies agreed to migrate their UNIX applications onto Power Systems, most of these migrating from Sun Solaris and HP UX platforms. Let me give you a couple of examples of clients: Energen migrated its SAP system and Oracle databases onto two Power 570 servers, consolidating from 20 Sun servers. As a result, their Oracle licensing costs were slashed by 40 percent, contributing a half-million dollars a year in annual savings. They now have a more efficient and highly available infrastructure that combines lower capital and operational costs with better performance and flexibility. In addition, they have significantly reduced the amount of floor space and energy consumed.


Sylvania is another example of a company lowering its operational costs and gaining infrastructure flexibility when it migrated its SAP applications to IBM Power, migrating from 50 legacy HP Alpha and Windows servers. Sylvania has now experienced batch times reduced by a factor of five. Their user response time has been cut in half, and the overall service levels to the business users dramatically improved. A couple of the trends we're seeing in the UNIX environment in Power Systems are the accelerating adoption of PowerVM virtualization and a new capability, VMControl, for managing heterogeneous pools of systems. Also, we're seeing growing client investments in IBM Systems Director, combining the platform and enterprise service management capabilities in an easy-to-manage, easy-to-use tool.


IBM i trends indicate that clients really have embraced many of the new capabilities of the system, such as the business intelligence capabilities using DB2 Web Query and integration with solid-state drives. A couple of examples: nonprofit South Carolina Student Loan recently implemented IBM DB2 Web Query for i in order to enable a more robust, efficient report capability and drive significant performance improvements. They've gained powerful new forecasting and reporting capabilities, they've eliminated the role of IT personnel as middlemen in the process, and information access went from 30 days to seconds. They reduced their report maintenance by leveraging multiple views within a single report so what used to take maybe five Query/400 reports can now be done in a single DB2 Web Query report. DB2 Web Query has really captured the imagination of the IBM i installed base. To date, we have shipped over 32,000 copies of DB2 Web Query, and thousands of clients are using this in production and really are achieving their reporting objectives in a much easier way.


Another example of customers leveraging some of the hot new capabilities with Power i: Associated Banc-Corp of Green Bay, Wisconsin, has deployed solid-state drives to optimize some of the I/O-intensive end-of-day batch workloads. By leveraging solid-state drives, batch times were reduced from over four hours to just over two hours, and in this instance, they were using just four solid-state drives in combination with 60 traditional drives. So these and other capabilities are going to continue to be enhanced in the next release of IBM i that will be coming in 2010. And as you are well aware, IBM is continuing to invest in IBM i because we have thousands of clients that are asking us to enhance the operating system so that they can support new workloads as well as the traditional IBM i workloads.


Here is a preview of a few things coming in IBM i in the next release: support for XML in DB2 is going to enable clients to better integrate applications with XML formatted data. Today, an XML document can be stored in DB2, but the applications cannot see into the native XML data format. We will be enhancing that in the next release. Hot data objects in IBM i today can be manually pinned, or placed, on solid-state drives. In the next release of IBM i, hot objects will be automatically recognized and placed on solid state drives to help you automatically improve the throughput and performance of the system. Another enhancement: today, RPG programs rely on the 5250 or green-screen interface, even if the screens are converted to a Web browser format. In the future, RPG programs will not be tied to the 5250, thereby enabling RPG programmers to directly access Web browsers, Web services, and mobile devices. These are just some of the enhancements that we're making in the next release of IBM i that you can expect in 2010.


I mentioned that managing risk and improving business resiliency is just a fundamental requirement and an increasing requirement. And business resilience is really a core pillar of our Power Systems and dynamic infrastructure focus, and the partnership between Vision Solutions and IBM has made business resiliency possible for many clients around the world.


For example, Alro Group in Belgium upgraded its iSeries Model 270 to a new dual-processor Power 520 with 700 GB of DASD, and in a very short period of time, data creep pushed disk utilization on the new system up to 60 percent, and only half of this data was really being used in their production environment, so Alro Group implemented Vision Data Manager running on an IBM Power System and was able to implement advanced data archiving capabilities—modeling, testing, purging, and archiving features. In two weeks, Data Manager reduced disk usage down to 50 percent, and long-term average disk usage now is hovering between 40 and 42 percent. The disk capacity is now easily managed with backups, and Data Manager is proactively maintaining the ideal DASD utilization levels.


Another great example of business resiliency: British Columbia Institute of Technology is in greater Vancouver, Canada, right in the middle of an earthquake zone. All of their critical student, financial, and human resources data are stored in Oracle databases running on IBM Power Systems with AIX. Protecting the availability of critical data was a major requirement of their disaster recovery plan. The Institute implemented EchoStream, which replicates the critical data from their Power environment to their backup Power system in a newer structure that is built to higher earthquake-resistant standards. As a result, recovery times have been greatly reduced, their ability to recover specific data items to any point in time was enabled, and EchoStream requires virtually no day-to-day management.


A final example: manufacturer CCL [Industries Inc.] running JD Edwards World and SSA PRMS (ERP) applications, which really controls all of their North American facilities on a single IBM Power server running IBM i. While the hardware failure is highly unlikely in a Power i environment, CCL needed to plan to protect its data and continue operations in the event of a power outage or natural disaster. CCL implemented MIMIX HA running on Power, providing advanced protection for these important applications and data on a switch-ready backup Power server. So for CCL, downtime was virtually eliminated, high-availability administration was minimized—really helping them address their full disaster recovery needs—and they now have 24/7 business continuity for their worldwide employee base. And these are just three of the many clients around the world who are achieving higher business resiliency, leveraging solutions from Vision Solutions on IBM Power Systems.


So IBM is absolutely investing in the future of Power Systems and of the Power i operating environment, as well as AIX.

View the Webcast

View the complete Webcast entitled "The State of Resilience on IBM Power Systems" at the MC Webcast Center.


Chris Smith

Chris Smith was the Senior News Editor at MC Press Online from 2007 to 2012 and was responsible for the news content on the company's Web site. Chris has been writing about the IBM midrange industry since 1992 when he signed on with Duke Communications as West Coast Editor of News 3X/400. With a bachelor's from the University of California at Berkeley, where he majored in English and minored in Journalism, and a master's in Journalism from the University of Colorado, Boulder, Chris later studied computer programming and AS/400 operations at Long Beach City College. An award-winning writer with two Maggie Awards, four business books, and a collection of poetry to his credit, Chris began his newspaper career as a reporter in northern California, later worked as night city editor for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, and went on to edit a national cable television trade magazine. He was Communications Manager for McDonnell Douglas Corp. in Long Beach, Calif., before it merged with Boeing, and oversaw implementation of the company's first IBM desktop publishing system there. An editor for MC Press Online since 2007, Chris has authored some 300 articles on a broad range of topics surrounding the IBM midrange platform that have appeared in the company's eight industry-leading newsletters. He can be reached at



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