Whenever IT architects, designers, and executives think about placement of new Linux applications on servers, the most common conclusion is to put the applications on x86-based servers. Frequently missing from the initial infrastructure decision-making process is a multi-year operational outlook that addresses growth and performance. Hence, what may be a best practice for low-growth business-critical systems or a low-usage, non-critical application may fall far short of being a best practice when the application grows to encompass tens, hundreds, or thousands of servers and is business-critical. Many IT professionals will claim that the scale-out x86 platform satisfies the performance and utilization requirements with the use of current virtualization platforms and strategies. However, this is not the case and the facts do not support it.

Furthermore, processor utilization is not always the gating factor for x86 servers; memory or channel utilization can impair performance. These bottlenecks and constraints greatly limit the number of applications and workload that can be placed on an x86 server, making it necessary to scale out to multiple processors and endure the ensuing increases in complexity and costs.

The new IBM Power Systems solutions built on POWER8 chips alters the landscape of possibilities by providing IT organizations with persuasive alternatives to the status quo. The IBM Power Systems singlesocket and two-socket servers are more efficient, cost-effective servers designed to run AIX and industry standard Linux workloads while delivering improved scalability, lower costs, and superior levels of service. IBM has aggressively priced these Power System offerings so that the TCA for comparable x86 one- and two-socket solutions can be 2x the cost of the Power System servers or more. Similarly, the TCO for the comparable x86 server solutions can be up to more than 300 percent more expensive.

There are numerous technical reasons to implement solutions on Power System servers beyond the financial ones. The POWER8 chip incorporates a Coherent Acceleration Processor Interface (CAPI). The CAPI port interfaces with the PCIe slot and enables external components such as accelerators and flash memory to directly communicate with the server’s memory. No operating system drivers are needed to utilize this feature. Initial IBM performance tests indicate a use case that shows a 24:1 CAPI Flash consolidation advantage over an x86 configuration designed to handle the same capacity while slashing costs by two-thirds.

Additionally, the Power System servers are optimized to support AIX and industry standard Linux operating systems (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Ubuntu Server) by exploiting workload advantages of POWER8, PowerKVM (Linux only) and PowerVM – yielding better performance, RAS (reliability, availability, and serviceability), and virtualization by being tuned to the environment. IT executives can order these solutions factory pre-loaded and get them delivered with an installation toolkit so that they can quickly become operational.

The PowerVM hypervisor offers capabilities beyond those obtainable on a commodity server with features such as active memory sharing, dynamic logical partitioning, and live partition mobility. With live partition mobility applications can be moved with minimal effort and without application shut down. This reduces the number of outages, allows for quiescing processors during low levels of utilization to save on power consumption, or swapping of servers without impact to business operations. Moreover, unlike VMware’s vSphere5.1 which only allows 96 GB of memory per socket, PowerVM does not have a virtual memory cap. Memory limitations can be problematic for a number of workload types that require a lot of memory. With PowerVM POWER8 servers can increase workloads within a single system up to 32 times to achieve superior memory and processor utilization levels.

The new IBM PowerKVM hypervisor provides an open virtualization platform choice for scale-out Linux users on the POWER8 servers. It is managed like any other KVM host and comes with open source tools so that users can avoid proprietary vendor lock-in. PowerKVM is designed to exploit POWER8 features like “micro-threading” and symmetric multithreading, with up to eight threads per core. The hypervisor optimizes real memory and allows for memory to be overcommitted and swapped out when inactive.

Additionally, Power Systems’ increased utilization and scaling capabilities reduce data center sprawl and offer multiple alternatives to maintaining, and even reducing, footprint requirements at refresh cycles. Furthermore, they will also reduce data replication tasks, enable systems to handle workload spikes, and simplify disaster recovery; and these characteristics end up shrinking the synchronization time needed in the nightly batch window. The net is all these Power Systems features streamline operations and costs while improving service to users thereby enabling administrators to focus more on revenue-generating and performance-enhancing tasks instead of ongoing operations. It will be years before x86 solutions can match today’s Power System capabilities.

The above was an excerpt from: The IBM Power Scale-out Advantage

Flagship Solutions Group has the expertise to answer any questions you might have relating to Linux and the benefits that can be achieved with IBM Power Systems.  Schedule a consultation today for assistance.

If you liked this blog, you might also like: Get ready. Get set. Linux on POWER is now a real option… Go!

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IBM Power Servers

Why Power Systems To draw insights and make better decisions, businesses rely on the secure, flexible and open platform of IBM Power Systems. Built with the first processor designed for big data workloads, the design of Power Systems combines the computing power, memory bandwidth and I/O in ways that are easier to consume and manage, building on strong resiliency, availability and security.

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  • IBM’s Enterprise Pools technology – exclusively on IBM Power Systems – enable you to move virtual processor and memory resources easily and conveniently, for virtually continuous server availability and simplified maintenance and system upgrades. See http://www.ibm.com/power/hardware/systempools/

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  • See how Linux on IBM Power Systems™ can help your company control costs, work efficiently and meet service-level agreements.

  • POWER8 Scale-Out: Speedy and Scalable Cache

  • Follow Power Systems on YouTube to see how POWER8 puts the power in YOUR hands and read the blog on CAPI here: http://ibm.co/1AE8OtQ The result of breakthrough innovation, the POWER8 cache introduces a distinct divide-and-conquer design, which drives efficiency by allowing each core to carve out specific cache segments, while contributing to a more efficient, less costly infrastructure.

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  • Can a chip make the world safer?

  • Take a few seconds and see the waitless way Zato, using the enormous crunching power of POWER8, helped combat global terrorism, scanning terabytes of security data in milliseconds. Find out more at ibm.com/power/waitless

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  • More Power to Transform Business

  • What can Big Data do for you? The momentum of IBM Power Systems continues with breakthrough announcements that put data to work across the enterprise. New IBM Power Systems Solution Editions for SAP HANA make deploying SAP HANA fast and easy with configurations to meet your business needs. The new IBM Power Systems E850 is the most agile 4-socket system in the marketplace with unique capabilities like capacity on-demand. Get ideal linear scalability for in-memory databases, like IBM DB2 with BLU Acceleration, with new IBM Power Systems E870 and E880. And the new IBM PurePower System delivers the most secure converged infrastructure for Cloud with open choice. Find out how IBM Power Systems are built for the Waitless World.

  • IBM® Power Systems™ let you capitalize on customer insight and expand your business

  • Growing data volumes and sources provide unlimited opportunities to increase customer engagement and revenue. Create new revenue sources with IBM Power Systems by analyzing multiple data sources in real time with open and secure cloud technology.Stay in Touch:Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://youtube.com/ibmpowersystemsFollow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ibmpowersystems

  • POWER8 Scale-Out: CAPI & Hardware Acceleration

  • Follow Power Systems on YouTube to see how POWER8 puts the power in YOUR hands and read the blog on CAPI here: http://ibm.co/1BRB6s6 POWER8 is expanding to new levels of partnership by opening up the CAPI architecture to innovation and customization. Tens of thousands of developers from around the world are now able to work on the platform and build solutions that we could never have imagined.

  • POWER8 Scale-Out: Amazing and Accessible

  • Follow Power Systems on YouTube to see how POWER8 puts the power in YOUR hands and read the blog on POWER8 Cache here: https://ibm.biz/BdEjFv POWER8 clearly stands as the best scale-out system for a business’s rapidly evolving needs. In addition to delivering at least two times the performance of the closest competitor, the overall acquisition costs are 58 percent lower. Inherent efficiencies, made possible by a wide range of sophisticated design breakthroughs allow for a 66 percent reduction in infrastructure overhead.

  • Unleash the Power of Mobile

  • Mobile on IBM Power Systems – http://www.ibm.com/systems/power/solutions/mobile/index.html – offers customers a robust, secure, and agile infrastructure to leverage mobile applications and workloads for their enterprise. When a single Tweet can cause a surge of traffic, make sure your systems never go down. Power Systems helps make sure customers have a seamless mobile experience – providing integration, security and scale.

  • Whitepaper Power Systems And The Mobile Landscape