Vendor discussions about cloud and hybrid cloud generally follow a “go where you know” trajectory. In other words, server and silicon providers offer new and different cloud-based hardware features, while software and service players focus on new applications and tools that make life easier for code writers, developers and data center staff. However, when it comes to the hybrid cloud, IBM’s efforts are in a totally different class.
IBM is the only systems provider that is still developing its own silicon (Oracle may not agree but its SPARC processors have not been updated since the arrival of M8 in 2017) and optimizes the resulting servers for hybrid clouds. In addition, IBM has significant portfolios of enterprise operating systems (AIX, IBM i and z/OS), middleware and in-house enterprise applications for cloud services. Finally, the company’s decades-long takeover of Linux (the lingua franca of the cloud) has resulted in strategic partnerships with leading open source providers, as well as IBM’s acquisition in 2019 of Red Hat, which has its own cloud computing technologies and services.
What all this means for corporate customers has been clearly explained in IBM’s new Power Systems and Red Hat offerings this week. Let’s think about this announcement.
Removes friction from cloud-enabled hardware
On the hardware side, IBM has introduced two Power Systems offerings:
- An updated IBM Power Systems private cloud solution, a private on-site cloud that can go from a heart with 256GB of memory to vast systems that support thousands of virtual machines. IBM improved the new offering by increasing the maximum number of VM per pool from 1,000 to 1,500 and the number of systems per pool from 32 to 48. The new solution is also able to monitor/show minutes of use for specific Linux distributions, thus simplifying the tracking and management of resource consumption.
- The new IBM Power Private Cloud Rack solution is a pre-configured on-site system for Red Hat OpenShift support. 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 accelerate the development and operation of native Kubernete container-based cloud applications via Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform. According to IBM, the Power Private Cloud Rack can offer a 49% lower cost per request than similarly equipped x86 platforms.
IBM has also expanded its Power Private Cloud feature with Dynamic Capacity, which allows customers using Power Systems Private Cloud solutions to unlock additional computing cores as needed and obtain cloud-based consumption-based rates. IBM extends this capability to hybrid cloud environments with hybrid capacity credits, which can be purchased and used to unlock the capacity of IBM POWER9 on-site servers and IBM Power virtual servers on IBM Cloud. The company is also working with ecosystem partners to expand dynamic capacity across multiple Linux distributions.
Finally, IBM announced that AIX 7.3 (which is scheduled for GA in the fourth quarter of 2021) will include new continuous computing, scalability, security and automation capabilities, some designed specifically for hybrid cloud environments.
Improve Red Hat for IT Modernization and Native Cloud Development
IBM has also expanded Red Hat’s capabilities on Power Systems solutions. They include:
- Red Hat OpenShift on IBM Power Systems virtual server: The IBM Power virtual server is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service enterprise offering built around IBM POWER9 and offering access to more than 200 IBM Cloud services. The Red Hat OpenShift container platform is now available on IBM Power Virtual Server, allowing customers to leverage OpenShift to deploy agile hybrid clouds. In addition, IBM Power Virtual Server customers can now run leading enterprise applications such as SAP HANA in an IBM POWER9 cloud.
- Red Hat Runtimes on IBM Power Systems: Red Hat Runtimes, a set of products, tools and components designed to develop and maintain native cloud applications, is now supported on IBM Power Systems. As a result, developers who create native cloud applications have access to key open source frameworks and runtimes that provide a unique development experience for hybrid applications covering 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 to simplify the automation of everyday IT tasks. In addition to an already comprehensive set of Ansible modules for IBM Power Systems, IBM has created 22 new Ansible modules since the beginning of the year that automate day-to-day tasks, such as patch management, security management, operating system and application deployment, continuous delivery, centralized backup, and virtualization recovery and management and procurement. Currently, 102 Ansible modules supporting IBM POWER are available for the open source community on GitHub. Many are available in the form of production-ready Ansible collections, reinforced by the company and certified via the Red Hat Ansible automation platform.
Many technology providers “go where they know” in terms of cloud computing, providing solutions designed to respond to narrowly targeted solutions or very specific use cases. In contrast, IBM knows where it is going compared to virtually any hybrid cloud destination. The company’s in-depth experience and wide range of silicon, server, storage, networking, operating system, middleware, software, developer and open source technologies means it can help cloud customers achieve the goals they want to achieve or the challenges they face.
These new and improved power systems and Red Hat solutions are just the latest examples of the company’s lucid focus on the hybrid cloud. We expect IBM to continue to deliver powerful and useful hybrid cloud solutions for many years to come.