Blog Series: IT Perspectives by Jaqui Lynch

For those of us who have been using POWER systems running AIX or IBM i for a while we are well aware of the advantages of POWER hardware. These systems scale from small 4 core 2U systems to incredibly powerful 256 core 22U systems that support up to 16TB of memory. The memory and I/O bandwidth of these servers is phenomenal.

For many years IBM has been increasing their Linux support on these servers. Today you can run Linux on POWER in its own LPAR on the same server that you are running your AIX and IBM i LPARs. Additionally, IBM offers the option of a Linux IFL on some of the higer end servers. This allows you to get reduced pricing on cores, memory and PowerVM for the Linux LPARs. Additionally, they provide a reduction in the PVUs used to price IBM products such as DB2. IBM also now offers a range of Linux only servers for big data, cloud and cluster deployments as well as specific servers designed for high performance computing and commercial computing. On January 19, 2015 they announced the latest offering, IBM Power Systems Easyscale for MSPs. This is a solution that provides service providers with the ability to start with a small S822 and to scale it and optimize expenses as demand changes.

IBM has made great strides in the past couple of years to the point where running Linux on POWER is a very attractive solution providing,

  • More performance per dollar
  • Better availability and reliability
  • Better scaleout scenarios than the competing systems
  • Improved management and integration capabilities

IBM has also updated PowerVM to allow support for both little endian and big endian LPARs on the same server. This is a major breakthrough. Historically POWER was big endian and x86 is little endian so there were issues with moving workloads between the servers. That is no longer an issue and the ability to support the primary 3 Linux operating systems (Ubuntu, RHEL and SLES) on the same servers that you may already have provides many more opportunities for consolidation and savings. It is no longer an either/or situation – you can run Linux for the workloads that it is best for and AIX and/or IBM i for the workloads that they excel at.

Finally, management is now much improved. IBM updated PowerVC 1.2.3 to support the new little endian distributions of Linux under PowerVM on POWER8 servers. Specifically, it now supports the little endian versions of RHEL 7.1, SLES 12 and Ubuntu v15.04. Virtualization can be provided using PowerVM if you want a mixed AIX, IBM i and Linux environment. For a Linux only server you can use PowerVM or PowerKVM for virtualization.

Linux on POWER is finally coming into its own. It is not a replacement for IBM i or AIX but it integrates very nicely into those environments. The ability to use an HMC (hardware management console) and PowerVM to virtualize the servers allows you to bring up a Linux environment very quickly with great scalability, performance and reliability. IBM offers a great range of solutions today that allow you to take advantage of the POWER hardware and to use the best of breed operating systems and applications while taking advantage of the savings offered by Linux on POWER where appropriate.


Schedule a consultation today for assistance with Linux on power.

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