IBM Empowers Enterprises with Power Systems

Date:   Thursday , February 10, 2011

Last year, IBM delivered the new Power Systems that helps banks, utilities, retailers and emerging businesses manage and draw real-time insights from ever-increasing amounts of data and which industry analysts say could accelerate IBM's gains in a market where it already has been outpacing competitors.
In a candid interaction with The SmartTechie, Rahul Bindal, Vice President - Power Systems, IBM Systems and Technology Group, IBM India/South Asia, talks about the new Power7 Systems and the edge it offers to business.

What is special about the Power7 systems? How is it different from Power 6 Systems?

POWER7 systems incorporate a number of industry-unique technologies for the specialized demands of new applications and services that rely on processing an enormous number of concurrent transactions and data while analyzing that information in real time. IBM has vastly increased the parallel processing capabilities of POWER7 systems - integrated across hardware and software - a key requirement for managing millions of concurrent transactions. The new Power Systems continue the history of IBM industry-leading transaction processing speed, optimized for database workloads, and also deliver a leap forward to “throughput” computing, optimized for running massive Internet workloads.

What is the innovation that Power7 systems brings to the industry?

Power Systems are integrated to help support the complex workloads and dynamic computing models of the new kind of world - Smarter systems for a Smarter Planet. They are designed to manage the most demanding emerging applications, ranging from smart electrical grids to real-time analytics for Indian market. It enables clients to manage current applications and services at less cost with technology breakthroughs in virtualization, energy savings, more efficient use of memory, and better price performance.

Some of the benefits that enterprises are seeing in the Power7 Systems are:

Delivers four times the performance and four times the virtualization capability for the same price -- and is three to four times more energy efficient. IBM estimates up to a 65 percent increase in transactions or users could be handled by the same server previously constrained by memory capacity.

The total cost of ownership of POWER7 systems can be better than competitive systems. For instance, the new IBM Power 750 Express currently delivers 71 percent better price for performance than Sun SPARC Enterprise T5440 server and more than 280 percent better than Sun SPARC Enterprise M5000 and M4000 servers.

Able to dynamically balance between energy usage and performance and systems utilization based on policy. The result is improved performance per watt -- more than two-times better than similar Intel x86-based systems, four times better than Sun SPARC servers and eight times better than similar HP Itanium-based servers. It provides solutions that enable customers to manage energy usage and costs in a way that aligns IT operations with business objectives.

The first server to deliver more than 1.2 million transactions-per-minute on only eight cores according to Transaction Processing Performance Council results. The results are 4.6 times better than an HP Superdome and 7.5 times better than a Sun SPARC Enterprise T5440 cluster running Oracle RAC.
POWER7 delivers a huge leap in capacity, virtualization, energy efficiency and leadership per core performance

Virtualization without Limits: Drive over 90 percent utilization

Resiliency without Downtime: Roadmap to continuous availability

Dynamic Energy Optimization: 70-90 percent energy cost reduction

Management with Automation: New IBM Systems Director Editions with Tivoli components

Where do you see the Power7 systems being deployed? Where does it fit in IBM's over all 'Smart Planet' initiative?

At IBM, when we say ‘Smarter’ we mean that intelligence is being infused into the systems and processes that make the world work—into things no one would recognize as computers: cars, appliances, roadways, power grids, clothes, even natural systems such as agriculture and waterways. Today, it's not a question as to whether the technology to build a smarter planet is real. Now, we need to know what to do next.

We live on a planet where data is exploding at an annual compound rate of 57 percent and nearly 6 terabytes of information are being exchanged over the Internet every second. Ironically, the average server in the average business runs at only 10 percent utilization. Scratch the surface and you’ll find that there are only two kinds of systems—those that can adapt to the needs of a smarter planet, and those that can’t.

A new kind of system performance is needed to respond to today's business challenges. Performance that provides breakthrough agility to capitalize on new opportunities; performance that provides a foundation for growth while managing business risk; performance that helps companies do more with less. Power Systems helps businesses meet these new performance challenges. Power Systems based on POWER7® processor technology help companies deliver new services faster, deliver higher qualities of service, and deliver services with superior economics.

Power is workload optimizing systems
Not all workloads are equal. For example, a large customer database requires different resources than a collaborative application. POWER7 Systems are designed to automatically optimize the performance and capacity of individual virtual machines or across the entire system to meet the specific demands of every workload running on the system.

Watson is an example of a workload optimized system based on IBM DeepQA and POWER7 processor technology that plays Jeopardy!, answering questions posed in natural language over a nearly unlimited range of knowledge. The same IBM Power 750 servers used for Watson can also be deployed in workload optimized systems that help solve practical business challenges across many industries, such as health care, financial services, and call center environments.

So we see customers across verticals and across sizes adopt POWER7 to derive unmatched benefits.

With increasing adoption of technology concept like virtualization and cloud computing, how is the Power7 systems positioned?

Smarter systems are designed for scalable virtualization. POWER7 systems enable massive workload consolidation to drive maximum system utilization and cost efficiency. IBM PowerVM and VMControl virtualization software plan support for up to 1,000 virtual machines for AIX, IBM i and Linux applications workloads on a single POWER7 processor-based system. PowerVM Live Partition Mobility enables companies to eliminate many scheduled outages by easily migrating applications between POWER6® and POWER7 systems.

IBM also launched a Smart Analytics System 7700 with Power7 technology. Dwell into how this will enhance businesses?

The IBM Smart Analytics System 7700 with POWER7 technology delivers a single, optimized system with the right balance of software, systems and storage capabilities for workloads generating unprecedented amounts of data at extreme speeds - providing a powerful analytics platform that can be deployed and customized for clients in a matter of days. This solution helps clients quickly draw insights from vast amounts of data to anticipate emerging business trends, capture new opportunities and avoid risks.

In the current market landscape, which are the other players competing with similar product lines?

Leaders in this market innovate. They attack the real pains their customers are experiencing. We are accelerating our market position through continued innovation at every point across the stack, delivering what we call intelligent performance versus raw performance. The need for a new definition of performance is becoming increasingly clear. And that's what I think is behind the momentum we're seeing in our systems business. It boils down to three distinct advantages we have in our systems business: the combination of our deep understanding of client needs a comprehensive systems portfolio and technology leadership. For example, IBM spent more than $5.8B on research and development in 2009, more than double that of HP ($2.8B). IBM R&D spending is up 21 percent since 2002; HP is down 15 percent over the same time period. HP's business model remains centered on commodities and cost cutting -- and consistent with that, they have shifted much of their focus to x86.

Working with industry leading ISVs like SAP means that IBM integration extends to a broad choice of industry applications that leverage the capabilities of Power, and optimized IBM middleware. POWER7 has the most aggressive pricing strategy and price/performance in the UNIX market segment. Compared to POWER6, we are nearly doubling the performance for the same price on most systems. Due to the efficient virtualization, high levels of reliability and availability compared to Windows systems, and performance of POWER7, clients can expect comparable cost of acquisition across software, hardware and service vs. HP and Dell x86 systems. And they will see lower total cost of ownership with IBM Power when considering staffing, facilities, energy and other costs.

And the results are evident - Since 2006, we have had 2600 success migrations on Power, over 500 in 2009, with more than 90% from Sun & HP (including x86 consolidations). In Q3 2010, IBM emerged the market leader in the India non-x 86 server markets in 3Q CY2010 with a 38 percent share in terms of factory revenue, a gain of 8.8 percentage points year-on-year (3Q CY2010 over 3Q CY2009).

With respect to India, how has the adoption of Power7 Systems been? Where do you see the market opportunities?

Since the launch of POWER7, the adoption level across the large and mid size enterprises is increasing rapidly with customers realizing the benefits and capabilities of POWER7. We currentky have over 80 clients in India, including Canara Bank, Titan, Minda Corporation, who have chosen POWER7 Systems to run their mission critical applications. In India, the transactions rate will be doubling in next two to three years and POWER7 can manage millions of transactions in real time and analyze the associated volumes of data typical of emerging applications. We will target BFSI, Telecom, Government sectors and even the outsourced data centre companies. With the launch of the Express systems and solutions, midsize businesses can also avail attractively priced servers and upgrades, integrate mission-critical solutions, and benefit from IBM’s proven capabilities to simplify server rooms while positioning companies for future growth.

What are the future plans with respect to this product line?

India is and will continue to remain a pre-dominantly UNIX market and a preferred platform of choice for clients who look for Reliability, Scalability and Flexibility to run their mission critical applications. Even the best x86 solutions have trouble meeting these expectations, let alone surpassing then. IBM is committed to building the Power Systems line-up and POWER7 is a great proof-point of this. Infact, work on POWER 8 is already underway in our labs.