Vendor discussions of cloud and hybrid cloud computing typically follow a “go where you know” trajectory. That is, server and silicon vendors pitch new and different cloud-focused hardware functions while software and services players focus on new applications and tools that make life easier for cloud-bound code writers, developers and data center staff. However, when it comes to hybrid cloud, IBM’s efforts are in an entirely different class.
IBM is the only systems vendor still developing its own silicon (Oracle might disagree but its SPARC CPUs haven’t been updated since the arrival of M8 in 2017) and optimizing resulting servers for hybrid clouds. Additionally, IBM has sizable portfolios of home-grown enterprise operating systems (AIX, IBM i and z/OS), middleware and business applications it can bring to bear for cloud-based services. Finally, the company’s decades-long support of Linux (the lingua franca of cloud) resulted in strategic partnerships with major open-source vendors, as well as IBM’s 2019 acquisition of Red Hat which has its own substantial cloud-enabling technologies and services.
What this all means for enterprise customers was made abundantly clear in the new Power Systems and Red Hat offerings IBM introduced this week. Let’s consider that announcement.
Removes the friction from cloud-enabled hardware
On the hardware side, IBM introduced two Power Systems offerings:
- An updated IBM Power Systems Private Cloud solution, an on-premises private cloud that can be scaled from one core with 256GB of memory to vast systems supporting thousands of VMs. IBM has enhanced the new offering by increasing the maximum number of VMs per pool from 1,000 to 1,500 and the number of systems per pool from 32 to 48. The new solution is also capable of monitoring/displaying minutes of usage for specific Linux distributions, thus simplifying resource consumption tracking and management.
- The new IBM Power Private Cloud Rack solution is a pre-configured on-premises system for supporting Red Hat OpenShift. Based on Linux, IBM AIX or IBM i, the solution is designed to help operationalize their hybrid cloud environments. In addition, organizations can use the Private Cloud Rack as an IaaS environment to speed the development and operation of Kubernetes container-based cloud-native applications via the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform. According to IBM, the Power Private Cloud Rack can deliver 49% lower cost per request compared to similarly equipped x86-based platforms.
IBM has also extended its Power Private Cloud with Dynamic Capacity function which enables customers using Power Systems Private Cloud solutions to unlock additional compute cores as needed and get cloud-like consumption-based pricing. IBM is extending that ability to hybrid cloud environments with hybrid capacity credits, which can be purchased and used to unlock capacity in on-premises IBM POWER9-based servers and IBM Power Virtual Servers on IBM Cloud. The company is also working with ecosystem partners to extend dynamic capacity across multiple Linux distributions.
Finally, IBM announced that AIX 7.3 (which is planned for GA in Q4 2021) will feature new continuous computing, scalability, security and automation capabilities, including some designed specifically for hybrid cloud environments.
Enhance Red Hat for IT modernization and cloud-native development
IBM has also expanded Red Hat capabilities on Power Systems solutions. They include:
- Red Hat OpenShift on IBM Power Systems Virtual Server: The IBM Power Virtual Server is an enterprise Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering built around IBM POWER9 and offering access to over 200 IBM Cloud services. The Red Hat OpenShift container platform is now available on IBM Power Virtual Server, enabling clients to leverage OpenShift to deploy agile hybrid clouds. In addition, IBM Power Virtual Server clients can now run leading business applications like SAP HANA in an IBM POWER9-based cloud.
- Red Hat Runtimes on IBM Power Systems: Red Hat Runtimes, a set of products, tools and components designed to develop and maintain cloud-native applications, is now supported on IBM Power Systems. As a result, developers creating cloud-native applications have access to leading open source frameworks and runtimes that offer a single development experience for hybrid applications spanning IBM Power Systems and other platforms.
- New Red Hat Ansible Content Collections: Red Hat’s Ansible Automation Platform (which was made available on IBM Power Systems last year) provides an open-source platform for simplifying automation of common IT tasks. Adding to an already extensive set of Ansible modules for IBM Power Systems, IBM has created 22 new Ansible modules since the start of the year that automate common tasks, like patch management, security management, operating system and application deployment, continuous delivery, centralized backup and recovery, and virtualization management and provisioning. Currently, there are 102 Ansible modules that support IBM POWER available to the open-source community on GitHub. Many are available as production-ready, enterprise-hardened and certified Ansible Collections via the Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform.
Many tech vendors “go where they know” in terms of cloud computing, providing solutions designed to address narrowly focused solutions or highly specific use cases. In contrast, IBM knows where it’s going in relation to virtually any hybrid cloud destination. The company’s deep experience in and broad array of silicon, server, storage, networking, OS, middleware, software, developer and open source technologies means that it can assist cloud-bound customers with whatever goals they aim to achieve or challenges they encounter.
These new and improved Power Systems and Red Hat solutions are merely the latest examples of the company’s clear-eyed focus on hybrid cloud. We expect IBM to continue delivering powerful, useful hybrid cloud solutions for many years to come.