Evaluate PowerVS for an optimized hybrid cloud environment – Low Calorie Diets Tips

For organizations looking to extend their PowerVM workloads to the cloud, PowerVS offers a straightforward way to implement hybrid cloud. But IT teams should understand how PowerVS works and what it can offer before committing to the service.

Power Systems Virtual Server or PowerVS is an IBM Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering that enables Power Systems customers to extend their on-premises environments to the cloud. PowerVS service is built on Power Systems servers running the PowerVM virtualization platform and provides a hosted infrastructure that seamlessly integrates with on-premises systems.

What is Power Systems Virtual Server?

The Power Systems servers supporting PowerVS are located in the IBM data center but are kept separate from the IBM Cloud servers. PowerVS servers reside on their own gated networks with dedicated direct-attached storage and an architecture identical to Power Systems’ certified on-premises infrastructure. PowerVS provides a secure environment for deploying virtual servers – aka logical partitions (LPARs) — which contain the reliability, availability, and serviceability characteristics inherent in the Power Systems platform.

With PowerVS, customers can quickly deploy one or more virtual servers, each running an AIX, IBM i, or Linux operating system. PowerVS provides stock images for AIX and IBM i, but customers must provide their own Linux images, which should conform to the Open Virtual Appliance format. PowerVS supports both Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for the Linux images. Customers can also bring their own customized AIX or IBM i images.

When admins set up virtual servers, they need to choose the data center where the virtual servers are located. IBM offers data centers in multiple locations around the world. Customers must also select the Power Systems hardware – the machine type – to host the virtual servers from the following choices:

  • IBM Power System E880 (9119-MHE)
  • IBM Power System E980 (9080-M9S)
  • IBM Power System S922 (9009-22A)

The location of the data center determines what hardware is available. For example, the Washington, DC data center supports Power Systems E980 and S922, and the Dallas data center supports Power Systems E880 and S922.

Power Virtual Server and IBM Cloud

Because PowerVS is a cloud service, administrators can quickly provision one or more virtual servers from the IBM Cloud catalog. When setting up a virtual environment, you can choose the number of virtual server instances, the number of cores, the amount of memory, network interfaces, and the size and type of data volume. Administrators manage guest operating systems and any middleware, runtimes, data, and applications they want to run on these virtual servers. IBM manages the underlying network, storage and server resources and the PowerVM environment.

PowerVS automatically restarts virtual servers on another host when a hardware failure occurs. IBM also offers optional services to increase availability or to support disaster recovery. For example, customers can choose to replicate PowerHA SystemMirror for AIX or Geographic Logical Volume Manager. In addition, customers can soft-pin or hard-pin a virtual server to the host. Soft pinning increases availability but may not be possible due to license restrictions.

PowerVS provides identity and access management services that allow customers to control access to virtual server resources. Customers can also set affinity and anti-affinity policies to control the placement of new storage volumes.

Because PowerVS is an IaaS offering, users get many of the same benefits as other cloud offerings. You can eliminate the capex associated with on-premises infrastructure and reduce the time IT teams spend implementing and maintaining the infrastructure. Additionally, customers can easily migrate workloads from their on-premises Power Systems servers to PowerVS virtual servers because PowerVS is built on the same foundation.

This consistency across environments also means that PowerVS customers access the same IBM Enterprise Services they use on their on-premises systems. In addition, PowerVS supports the Red Hat OpenShift container platform, making it possible to deploy an OpenShift cluster on virtual server instances. PowerVS is also a certified external Power Systems solution for SAP HANA and SAP NetWeaver workloads.

Introducing PowerVM

PowerVM is a virtualization platform integrated with Power Systems servers. The platform provides Power Systems Virtual Server with the necessary foundation to support virtual servers running AIX, IBM i or Linux workloads. PowerVM consists of hardware, firmware, and software components that work together to enable IT administrators to virtualize CPU, memory, and network resources. At the heart of the platform is the power hypervisor, which provides an abstraction layer between the LPARs and the physical hardware resources.

LPARs are standalone operating environments, similar to the VMs supported by other hypervisors. A Power Systems server can support up to 1,000 LPARs. Administrators can allocate processor, memory and I/O device resources to each LPAR at a granular level. PowerVM also includes Virtual I/O Server, a software component that allows multiple LPARs on a server to share physical I/O resources.

PowerVM seamlessly integrates with the Power Systems platform and provides a secure environment for workload integrity protection while IT administrators can use server resources effectively. IT teams can scale up or down in their virtualized deployments without sacrificing performance. PowerVM also offers Active Memory Sharing (AMS), which allows memory to be reallocated from one LPAR to another. In addition, PowerVM supports live partition mobility for LPARs migration between systems, helping to streamline upgrades and system balancing.

PowerVM also offers a number of other important features:

  • Micro-partitioning technology for allocating fractional amounts of processing resources to LPARs;
  • multiple shared processor pools to automatically balance processing power across LPARs;
  • PowerSC suite of security components including Trusted Boot, Trusted Logging and Trusted Firewall;
  • Single-root I/O virtualization that provides optimized I/O virtualization within the network adapter hardware;
  • dynamic logical partitioning to dynamically move processor, memory, and I/O resources between LPARs;
  • active storage deduplication that reduces storage consumption for AMS configurations; and
  • shared memory pools to optimize resource consumption.

PowerVS is a full IaaS offering, while PowerVM is strictly a virtualization platform, whether implemented on-premises or as part of PowerVS. When organizations implement PowerVM on-premises, they provision and maintain the platform and underlying infrastructure that supports it.

PowerVS versus on-premises PowerVM

Organizations that have chosen the Power Systems platform in their on-premises data centers can use PowerVM to virtualize workloads, improve server resource consumption, and simplify infrastructure management. They can also deploy their workloads on Power Virtual Server, which uses PowerVM to create and manage virtual servers. More importantly, PowerVS allows an organization to implement a hybrid cloud that extends its on-premises environments to PowerVS. In fact, PowerVS was primarily designed to support this scenario.

For most Power Systems customers, the choice is not between PowerVM and PowerVS, but between an on-premises deployment and a hybrid deployment that extends their virtualized workloads to PowerVS:

  • With an on-premises offering, customers retain full control of their environments and avoid long-term subscription fees — which add up quickly — but they also face the initial investments that come with purchasing equipment, along with time and cost ongoing maintenance costs.
  • With a hybrid deployment, customers can easily extend their environments to the cloud, deploy workloads across multiple global data centers, and reduce capital and maintenance costs. However, these customers must still maintain their on-premises infrastructure with additional cloud subscription fees.

Customers can use PowerVS exclusively and do without a local Power Systems infrastructure. Like any cloud service, this setup has its pros and cons.

In both scenarios, customers lock themselves into the Power Systems platform. While this can simplify licensing, management, and workload integration, it has limitations – like the inability to run Windows operating systems on the virtual servers. Customers must also pay and track ongoing subscription fees when using PowerVS alone or in a hybrid configuration.

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