HelpSystems Blog

What’s So Great About POWER8?

Consolidating IBM i, AIX, and Linux onto one server strategy called POWER8 has been a win for IBM i customers. Companies are running leading edge technologies like SAN, VTL, SSD, and VIOS on a server that many consider legacy. With the 7.2 release for IBM i in May and the new POWER8 servers announced this fall, it’s hard to believe there’s anyone left still calling this system a legacy server.

New POWER8 Servers

IBM announced the E870 and E880 models at the IBM Enterprise2014 conference in Las Vegas this fall. These are in addition to the S814 and S824 servers announced earlier this year. The new models are for larger end users of IBM i. Let’s take a closer look at the specs.

Model E870

The E870 model has a feature code EPBA that comes with a 4.02 gigahertz (GHz) processor with 8 cores per chip and 32 or 64 cores with the 64 cores running on two partitions. The 32-core system is rated at a commercial processing workload (CPW) value of 359,000, and the 64-core system at 711,000 CPW—in both cases, just over 11,000 CPW per core.

Compare this to the POWER7 780 model (October 2010) where the CPW rating was 6,600 per core on the 32-core server. It’s enough to say the new model is 1.6 times faster, but there’s more—the EPBC feature code for the E870 has a 4.19 GHz processor and can come with 40 or 80 cores, depending on the configuration, and CPW values of 460,000 and 911,000. The later server ends up with even a little more per core.

Model E880

The E880 model has a feature code EPBB that comes with a 4.35 GHz processor with 8 cores per chip and can be configured with 32 or 64 cores. With CPW ratings valued at 381,000 and 755,000, not surprisingly, the E880 has a few more CPW per core than the E870.

IBM Price Group

The price group for these servers is rated at P30. The P30 tier for these servers is IBM’s adjustment in the market to offer its operating system at a lower entry point to compete with other hardware solutions. But remember, these IBM servers come with DB2, application development environments, and more—the “i” is for integration!

HelpSystems software pricing for IBM i is based on CPW and number of processors turned on for each server. We realize that customers may run AIX, Linux, and IBM i all on the same server, and that customers are not going to buy an E880 with 32 cores all turned on right away.

Trends and Predictions

The E870 and E880 servers provide a lot of power for those larger end users. The good news for small- and medium-sized enterprises is that even the S814 offers approximately 9,800 CPW per core, so this lower-end server model can have up to 39,500 CPW, but many businesses on older POWER5 and POWER6 servers are underutilizing their CPW levels already.

This is why managed service providers (MSPs) make sense for these companies. They can use 10 percent of a MSP server to function properly, and there are many benefits since they won’t have to worry about deploying some of the newer technologies like SAN, VTL, and VIOS—the MSP can be the expert that gets the average IBM i shop going in these areas.

Additionally, there is a trend toward getting more customers to run Linux on Power servers. This is great as we see benefits for customers running web application servers, mail servers, and other applications that need quick access to the background data running on IBM i. You certainly can run these applications on IBM i as well.

Plus, the recent rash of security breaches is bound to make CIOs and CEOs a little nervous and maybe think twice about putting company data on the OS that’s struck the most by viruses and other targeting mechanisms.

Future-Proofing Your Business

HelpSystems paves the way for a smooth transition to mixed operating systems with the Robot Schedule Enterprise software for automating and monitoring your job schedule from IBM i via agents on Linux and AIX. This technology gives you the ability to automate cron scripts from within Robot jobs. For example, a group job in Robot Schedule could start by running a job on IBM i, then transfer a file to Linux, monitor for a file complete on Linux, and execute a script that loads the data in a data warehouse on Linux, and finally run some reports back on IBM i.

On the security side, PowerTech security and compliance software runs on IBM i to help you pass audits. Powertech Network Security handles monitoring HTTP, JDBC, and FTP from the Linux server to protect your IBM i. Powertech Policy Minder software for AIX and Linux helps to verify the settings on AIX and Linux partitions running on Power servers.

As for IBM i on POWER8, we still know it to be proven technology and a server that is positioned perfectly for security, big data, and virtualization needs. To learn more about the evolving role of IBM i in modern data centers, watch our recorded webinar with Dr. Frank Soltis.