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IBM Unveils POWER5 Servers

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This morning, at the spring COMMON Conference in San Antonio, Texas, IBM will unveil the first servers that run on the company's new POWER5 processors. Those systems--the eServer i5 Models 520 and 570--represent the next generation of iSeries servers and the first generation of eServers that can support OS/400, Linux, AIX, and Windows workloads in an integrated environment. IBM will ship the first eServer i5 models on June 11.

While the eServer i5 carries on the rich heritage of the AS/400 and iSeries, it also represents a significant break from its progenitors. One welcome break is the nearly complete elimination of the price premiums that IBM has put on iSeries hardware over pSeries counterparts. When IBM unveils the POWER5-based pSeries servers later this year, customers will find that prices for processors, memory, disk storage, and adapter cards are the same across both POWER server families. According to sources inside IBM, one reason for this change is an increased resolve to compete aggressively in the small and medium-business (SMB) market. In this fight for market share, Big Blue will pitch the i5 as a server that not only provides high levels of software integration out of the box, but also meets or beats Intel servers on a price/performance basis.

With its support for AIX and its extended Linux and Windows capabilities, the eServer i5 is also more of a workload consolidation platform than the AS/400 and iSeries. Indeed, IBM will position the new server as a cost-effective "network in a box" that can consolidate and simplify entire IT infrastructures. Given the eServer i5's enhanced On Demand features and management facilities, it may actually deliver this benefit to many customers.

The i5 Up Close

Besides having a faster and more sophisticated processor than the iSeries, the eServer i5 is packaged differently than its predecessors were. Unlike the iSeries models, which IBM housed in their own unique chassis, each 520 and 570 server comes packaged as an industry-standard unit that is 19 inches wide and 4U in height. The Model 520 can fit in either a 19-inch rack or a deskside cabinet, while the Model 570 fits only in racks.

As the following table indicates, the Model 520 serves as the upgrade path for the iSeries 800 and 810 as well as for the older iSeries 820. At the entry level, the 520 is available in a Value Edition that runs at 500 or 1,000 processor CPWs and delivers 30 or 60 CPWs of 5250 application performance, respectively. The 520 also comes in a Standard Edition with no 5250 performance and an Enterprise Edition with unlimited 5250 performance. These editions are available on 520 models ranging from 1,000 to 6,000 processor CPWs. No matter what edition a customer chooses, each 520 (as well as each 570) comes standard with the next-generation release of OS/400, DB2 UDB for OS/400, and WebSphere Application Server (WAS) Express Version 5.0. IBM is making WAS Express a standard feature in order to integrate Web support into the eServer i5 and encourage software vendors to support WebSphere on their applications.

 

The eServer i5 520 and Previous Models

iSeries 800
iSeries 810
520
Value Ed.
520 Std. & Ent. Ed.
520 Std. & Ent. Ed.
Processor
1-way S Star 540 MHz
1- or 2-way
S Star 540 MHz
1-way POWER5
1.5 GHz
1-way POWER5
1.5 GHz
2-way POWER5
1.65 GHz
Processor CPW Options
300, 950
750, 1020, 1470, 2700
500, 1000
1000, 2400, 3300
6000
5250 CPW Options
25, 50
0 or maximum
30, 60
0 or maximum
0 or maximum
Memory (Maximum)
8 GB
16 GB
32 GB
32 GB
32 GB
Disk Storage (Maximum)
4 TB
14 TB
19 TB
19 TB
19 TB
IXS/IXA Cards (Maximum)
4/3
13/7
18/8
18/8
18/8
Max OS/400 LPARs/Max LPARs
4/10
No AIX
1-way: 4/10 2-way: 8/20
No AIX
520/500: 2/2
520/1000: 4/4
Supports AIX
520/1000: 4/4
520/2400 and /3300: 10/10
Supports AIX
20/20
Supports AIX
OS/400 Release Support
V5R2, i5/OS
V5R2, i5/OS
i5/OS
i5/OS
i5/OS
Software Tier
P05, P10
P10, P20
P05, P10
P10, P20
P30
Upgrade Paths
Within iSeries 800
Within iSeries 810 or to 520
From 520/500 to 520/1000
Within 520
None

As the table indicates, there are significant differences between the iSeries 800/810 and the eServer i5 520. Besides its greater performance range and higher memory and disk capacities, the 520 supports more Integrated xSeries Server (IxS) and Integrated xSeries Adapter (IxA) cards than its predecessors. In addition, both the 520 and 570 can host logical partitions (LPARs) running AIX 5L V5R2 as well as Linux and OS/400. By contrast, the iSeries cannot support AIX. Both the 520 and 570 also offer a new LPAR management feature: automatic balancing of workloads across LPARs. With this feature, LPARs that are designated as having "uncapped" capacity can draw upon unused processor resources when they reach utilization thresholds. This transfer of resources takes place without operator intervention.

It should also be noted that the LPAR support limits are somewhat different on the 520 and 570 than they are on the iSeries. While the iSeries supports four OS/400 LPARs and 10 Linux LPARs per processor, the 520 and 570 support the same number of LPARs on a per-processor basis, regardless of the operating systems they are running. This means that customers could theoretically support up to 10 OS/400 LPARS per processor on the 520 running at 2,400 CPWs or higher. Realistically, however, most customers would not approach this limit and probably should not do so. On the 520 Value Edition models, the new limits also mean that customers are theoretically limited to fewer LPARs than on iSeries models. In reality, though, an iSeries running at similar speeds could not support more LPARs than a comparable 520.

As you may have noticed, the 520 and the 570 run a next-generation release of OS/400. That release, known as i5/OS V5R3 or simply as i5/OS, is the only OS/400 release that runs on the i5. However, customers can also run i5/OS on all iSeries servers and on any AS/400 Model 170, 270, or 7xx. Holders of OS/400 V5R1 and V5R2 licenses can upgrade their operating systems to i5/OS.

I will say more about i5/OS later in this article. For the moment, though, let's look at what the Model 570 offers to customers who need greater performance than the 520. At present, the 570 comes packaged as a 1/2-way system (1 active and 1 standby processor) or as a 2/4-way unit. This makes the 570 an upgrade path for larger iSeries 810 servers as well as for the Model 825 and the 5/8-way Model 870.

 

The eServer i5 570 and Previous Models

iSeries 825
iSeries 870
570 Std. & Ent. Ed.
570Std. & Ent. Ed.
Processor
3/6-way POWER4 1.1 GHz
5/8-way POWER4 1.1 GHZ
1/2-way
POWER5 1.65 GHz
2/4-way
POWER5 1.65 GHz
Processor CPW Range
3600-6600
7700-11500
3000-6000
6350-11700
5250 CPW Options
0 or maximum
0 or maximum
0 or maximum
0 or maximum
On Demand Capabilities
Processors
Processors
Processors
Memory
Reserve COD
Processors
Memory
Reserve COD
Memory (Maximum)
48 GB
64 GB
32 GB
64 GB
Disk Storage (Maximum)
58 TB
76 TB
19 TB
39 TB
IXS/IXA Cards (Maximum)
36/18
48/32
18/8
36/16
Max OS/400 LPARs/Max LPARs
3-way: 12/30
6-way: 24/60
No AIX
5-way: 20/50
8-way: 32/80
No AIX
1-way: 10/10
2-way: 20/20
Supports AIX
2-way: 20/20
4-way: 40/40
Supports AIX
OS/400 Release Support
V5R2, i5/OS
V5R2, i5/OS
i5/OS
i5/OS
Software Tier
P30
P40
P30
P30
Upgrade Paths
To 870 and 570
Within 870, to 890, or to 570
Within 570
Within 570

Like the iSeries 825 and 870, the eServer i5 570 comes in a Standard Edition with no 5250 performance and an Enterprise Edition with unlimited performance. Also like the iSeries, the 570 offers Capacity Upgrade on Demand (CUoD) and On/Off Capacity on Demand (COD) for processors. However, the 570 also comes with Memory COD, an offering that allows customers to purchase inactive memory at about 60% of its list price and then permanently activate that memory as workloads expand. The 570 also offers Reserve COD, a facility that automatically activates unused processors if the utilization rates for active processors reach 100%. These two offerings--which IBM intends to ship during the third quarter of this year--will significantly increase the flexibility and value of the 570's On Demand offerings versus those of the iSeries.

Since the 570 tops out at four processors and 11,700 CPWs, it is currently not an upgrade path for owners of the 8/16-way iSeries 870 or the iSeries 890. However, according to an IBM statement of direction, that will change during the third quarter of this year. During the quarter, IBM will ship 4- to 16-way Model 570s that cover the performance range of the iSeries 890 and support up to 160 LPARs. About the same time, IBM will ship High-Availability Editions of the 520 and 570. The company also plans to offer Capacity Backup versions of both models, though it is not yet clear when these will become available.

While IBM is not making any statements about POWER5 processors with more than 16 processors, rest assured that it has plans for such systems. As I have predicted in previous articles, IBM will unveil i5 servers that run on as many as 64 POWER5 processors and support up to 256 LPARs. At the high end, I expect such servers will deliver well over 100,000 CPWs.

i5/OS: Something for Nearly Everyone

As I indicated earlier, IBM is also announcing the next release of OS/400--rebranded as i5/OS--at COMMON today. Since i5/OS runs on the AS/400 170, 270, 7xx, and iSeries 8xx, it can deliver many of the benefits of the i5 to owners of older systems. Here is a quick summary of the major enhancements that i5/OS brings to existing servers.

  • An integrated copy of WAS Express. No longer a chargeable option, WAS Express is a standard feature of i5/OS. The product also comes with a new application for conducting surveys along with the existing Telephone Directory application.
  • Enhancements to Backup Recovery Management Services (BRMS). Under i5/OS, BRMS can perform automated backups of Windows, Linux, AIX 5L, and Domino servers. The new release also contains a wizard that condenses and reorganizes data to optimize tape utilization and save on media costs.
  • Availability improvements. Several features of i5/OS promote higher levels of system uptime. These include RAID5 protection across SCSI buses, Rapid Checkpoint Save-While-Active, and the ability to add or remove I/O towers and IXA cards without restarting the system. A new Cross Site Mirroring facility allows users to mirror all objects in an Independent Auxiliary Storage Pool (iASP) to geographically remote disaster recovery sites.
  • Tighter security. The new release also enables native, real-time scanning for viruses within the iSeries' Integrated File System (IFS) via Bytware's StandGuard Anti-Virus product. In addition, i5/OS has a native Kerberos server that provides users with a single sign-on across i5/OS applications, Windows servers, and all portlets and servlets.
  • Expanded DB2 functionality. Database administrators will appreciate the support in i5/OS for Star Joins, query result set caching, and several of the latest SQL standards. In addition, DB2 UDB for i5/OS can support single tables of up to 1.7 TB in size.

There are many details in the i5/OS announcement that I do not have space to cover here. Before I move on, however, you should know that among the iSeries software vendors I have spoken to who received early versions of i5/OS, many said that it was one of the most stable beta releases they ever tested. I intend to write more about i5/OS in a future issue, so stay tuned.

A New Name...An Expanded Mission

In a time-honored tradition, the eServer i5 maintains full support for the AS/400 and iSeries technologies that users know and trust. However, its new name and new technologies make it clear that IBM wants to take the i5 where no AS/400 or iSeries has gone before. With its support for AIX and its ability to manage hundreds of virtual Linux servers, the i5 will make a bid for software vendors, systems integrators, and customers that never considered its predecessors. With its dramatically better price/performance, the i5 will also vie for the attention of IT vendors and customers that traditionally pick Intel servers. In such environments, the complete elimination of "400" from the i5's branding could help to dispel any association of the server with green-screens and expensive hardware.

Will the eServer i5 gain the allegiance of large numbers of new customers? That all depends on what you mean by "large." In my opinion, the i5 stands a fair chance of winning over tens rather than hundreds of thousands of new SMB customers over the rest of this decade. Just as importantly, it will give existing customers many good reasons to stick with POWER servers. In the process, the i5 will gain new Linux and AIX solutions that will make it a more flexible and powerful server for all customers. In short, the eServer i5 guarantees that IBM's leading midrange server will be a force in the IT community for years to come. That is good news for all of us who have a stake in the system's future.

Lee Kroon is a Senior Industry Analyst for Andrews Consulting Group, a firm that helps mid-sized companies manage business transformation through technology. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Lee Kroon
Lee Kroon is a Senior Industry Analyst for Andrews Consulting Group, a firm that helps mid-sized companies manage business transformation through technology.
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    • How can RDi help me find out if I’ve tested all lines of a program?
    • What’s the best way to transition from PDM to RDi?
    • How do I convince my long-term developers to use RDi?

    This is a unique, online opportunity to hear how you can get more out of RDi.

     

  • Node.js on IBM i Webinar Series Pt. 2: Setting Up Your Development Tools

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. In Part 2, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Attend this webinar to learn:

    • Different tools to develop Node.js applications on IBM i
    • Debugging Node.js
    • The basics of Git and tools to help those new to it
    • Using NodeRun.com as a pre-built development environment

     

     

  • Inside the Integrated File System (IFS)

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericDuring this webinar, you’ll learn basic tips, helpful tools, and integrated file system commands—including WRKLNK—for managing your IFS directories and Access Client Solutions (ACS). We’ll answer your most pressing IFS questions, including:

    • What is stored inside my IFS directories?
    • How do I monitor the IFS?
    • How do I replicate the IFS or back it up?
    • How do I secure the IFS?

    Understanding what the integrated file system is and how to work with it must be a critical part of your systems management plans for IBM i.

     

  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.

     

     

  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • How to Meet the Newest Encryption Requirements on IBM i

    SB PowerTech WC GenericA growing number of compliance mandates require sensitive data to be encrypted. But what kind of encryption solution will satisfy an auditor and how can you implement encryption on IBM i? Watch this on-demand webinar to find out how to meet today’s most common encryption requirements on IBM i. You’ll also learn:

    • Why disk encryption isn’t enough
    • What sets strong encryption apart from other solutions
    • Important considerations before implementing encryption

     

     

  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.

     

     

  • Fight Cyber Threats with IBM i Encryption

    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

     

     

     

  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.

     

  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.

     

     

  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.

     

     

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  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.