The Stack Archive Article

A reliable foundation for your IT environment – IBM Power Series

Tue 25 Jul 2017 | Marcin Trzaskowski | Dariusz Wojcik

Physical servers are a fundamental element of extensive IT systems in which requirements are dependent upon the efficiency and specificity of operations (e.g. the transmission and exchange of data, design power and reliable operation). For this reason, the majority of proposals are all-purpose solutions – nevertheless, we can encounter equipment dedicated to specific purposes.

In response to market demand for professional-use equipment, in 1990 IBM provided POWER 1 servers (Performance Optimization with Enhanced RISC). These were the first servers to adopt Register Renaming technology or Out-of-Order Execution. Modern servers with POWER8 processors are high-scalability and high-reliability devices which save energy. When compared to the initial POWER processors, they are incomparably faster – POWER1 was equipped with a clock about 30Mhz, POWER8 – up to 4.2Ghz – 140x faster! With the development of services and software, efficiency requirements have risen – customers expect better performance, faster operation, as well as high availability and a large number of transactions per second.

Everyone who works with Power servers knows the evolution of IBMi terminology which emerged in 1988 with the name AS/400 (at present the most recognizable in this line of business – AS, that is, Application System), which in 2000 was rebranded (along with other IBM products, such as RS/6000 rebranded into the pSeries) into the IBM eServer iSeries. In 2005, IBM changed the brand for all products based on Power technology again and “IBM eServer iSeries” was abbreviated to “IBM System I”, and “IBM eServer pSeries” to “IBM System p”. These changes resulted from new versions of operating systems and the provision of new functions to technologies (among others, Power servers were adapted for use with the Internet). At present, the Power Systems platform is adapted to cloud environments (private and hybrid) as well as dedicated groups which require high availability, high scalability, safety and efficiency.

A few interesting pieces of news related to IBMi servers:

  • They are installed in 95% of companies from Fortune100 and 75% of companies from Fortune500
  • They have over 18 million active users per day
  • They are installed in nearly all banks in the worldOne department which Bill Gates wished to purchase was the IBM AS/400 server department
  • The IBMi system is virtually free from computer viruses – this is due to its architecture and operating system properties.

Thanks to Power System servers, we can adapt solutions to specific requirements:

  • Scale-out servers – available at an attractive price, easy-installation, energy-efficient, consolidation or autonomic servers operating in Power Linux, AIX and IBMi systems. Intended for organizations looking for minor or scalable options for the purposes of their applications.
  • Power Linux servers – Power System solutions intended solely for Power Linux (Ubuntu, SUSE and Red Hat Linux) systems and optimized to suit their nature, combining top-efficiency and a high return on investment (ROI) index.
  • Enterprise class servers – provide businesses with vast possibilities in terms of key indicators: data availability, data safety, efficiency and flexible operation. Processors (POWER8 up to 192 cores) and memory (up to 16TB) can be activated (also temporarily) and automatically moved between systems, depending on the load needs of specific applications. Enterprise class servers are capable of supporting Power Linux, AIX and IBMi systems.
  • Intensive calculations – Power System solutions for IBMi, AIX and Power Linux systems, intended for maximum design efficiency, are able to satisfy expectations while analyzing large amounts of data and top design loads required in business, such as meteorology, computational chemistry and financial services.

POWER architecture is a basis for the OpenPOWER Foundation, a continuously developing community created with a view to promoting new opportunities and developing new-generation applications and technologies, as well as improving existing solutions.

Taking the most of open standards, Power Systems provide instruments which ensure the productivity and efficient work of programmers, administrators and users by removing limitations related to commercial solutions. Thanks to the architecture which supports open standards, solutions such as Power Linux or OpenStack, as well as innovations based on operation in communities, driven by Power Systems Linux Centers, Watson&Power clouds or the OpenPOWER Foundation, Power Systems servers are the best in class, whereas POWER processors are the top achievement as new-generation processors for commercial and technical purposes.

Therefore, they perform well in terms of efficiency for commercial purposes, e.g. in DB2 and SAP databases. It is worth emphasizing that many contemporary supercomputers are highly efficient thanks to Power processors. In 2017, 2 super computers (Sierra and Summit) are due to be manufactured. They will be used to simulate nuclear weapons (Sierra), or the so-called Open Science (Summit) – providing design power to scientific centers to simulate the climate or astrophysics, etc. Thanks to Power processors, it is possible to develop systems for both traditional data processing systems and transactions, as well as solutions requiring high computational potential and considerable amounts of data, such as Internet applications, analytical applications, mobile and social networking applications or Big Data.

To achieve maximum efficiency and cost flexibility, systems equipped with Power processors are provided with optimization and virtualization technologies which allow automatic adaptation to specific workload requirements or resources to be increased on demand (Capacity on Demand). Virtualization also allows the optimization of costs through streamlining purchases of equipment and the reduction of failure risk by using fewer equipment components which may break down. Intelligent Threads technology dynamically switches threading modes in order to ensure optimal efficiency adapted to various workloads – if you wish to finish one thread earlier or cover more threads at a time. In turn, Active Memory Expansion helps you reduce memory costs by providing logical extension (through compression) of physical memory up to 100 percent for applications requiring the highest work costs, such as SAP.

Comarch ICT offers fully managed services for IBM i Power Systems (Power Systems, iSeries, AS/400). To see more possibilities of IBM Power System, and to obtain solutions for your enterprise – please contact the trade department.

Experts featured:

Marcin Trzaskowski

Data Center Manager

Dariusz Wojcik

ICT Product Manager

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