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IBM Makes Major Cloud IaaS Play with New OpenPOWER Bare Metal Servers

By Laura Stotler

IBM has been steadily building out its cloud infrastructure initiative and is now making OpenPOWER-based servers available through its SoftLayer company. The servers are an expansion of the IBM’s portfolio of cloud-based services, providing a bare metal server option for configuration of cloud infrastructure.

The new servers are based on the OpenPOWER Foundation design concept and are made specifically to manage data-intensive workloads on both public and private clouds. Based on the IBM POWER8 processor technology, the new servers are a collaborative effort from the more than 100 members of the OpenPOWER Foundation. They are designed specifically to help companies migrate to the cloud inexpensively and quickly.

Server and workstation platform provider TYAN was a major contributor to the project, building on its longstanding relationship with IBM and SoftLayer. Mellanox Technologies, a provider of Infiniband and Ethernet solutions, also played a role in development of the new bare-metal servers.

Google is also a member of the OpenPOWER Foundation, and could prove to be a monster IaaS customer for IBM if they decide to deploy the new servers in their data centers. The initiative also pits IBM directly against Intel’s Xeon processors, which currently dominate when it comes to cloud infrastructure.

"Some of the performance estimates I've seen it could have anywhere from 20 percent to up to 50 percent performance advantage against Xeon, but it is speculative and you also do it at upwards of three times the cost," said Jim MacGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research, of the new OpenPOWER servers.

"The new OpenPOWER-based bare metal servers makes it easy for users to take advantage of one of the industry's most powerful and open server architectures," said Sonny Fulkerson, CIO at SoftLayer. "The offering allows SoftLayer to deliver a higher level of performance, predictability and dependability not always possible in virtualized cloud environments."

The new servers are scheduled to be available in the second quarter. They are developed to run Linux applications on the POWER8 architecture, utilizing an open architecture and standards from the chip level on up. Organizations building out custom hybrid, private and public cloud solutions will benefit from the agility, speed and open architecture of the offerings.

The servers are set to be available in SoftLayer’s Dallas cloud center initially, with plans for global expansion.




Edited by Maurice Nagle

MSPToday Contributing Editor

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