IBM tosses in freebie Linux with Power servers
RHEL only, no SLES love
IBM has been hoping for years that Linux would drive new workloads on Power-based systems where OS/400-i platforms are the back-end systems – just as Linux-based partitions have, to a certain extent, been the salvation of the System z mainframe.
It is hard to say for sure how much traction Linux has with OS/400 and i shops – or even AIX shops for that matter – but what I can tell you is that Big Blue wants you to give Linux a shot so badly that it is willing to fork out the cash to get you to try the first licence.
In announcement letter 310-291, IBM is offering a special promotion on Red Hat's Enterprise Linux. Under the deal, if you buy a Power Systems Express configuration plus either the PowerVM Standard or the Enterprise Edition hypervisor (neither of which are free), then IBM will toss in a support subscription licence to the Power version of RHEL. The deal presumably covers Power 5XX and Power 7XX rack and tower servers as well as PS7XX blade servers, but the announcement does not say. So assume the widest possible case.
IBM says that the RHEL support contract is worth $795 in the announcement letter, and I have no idea where IBM came up with that number. Red Hat announced RHEL 6 in mid-November, and as far as I know, a support contract for RHEL 6 costs $2,700 per year for a two-socket pair on any Power-based system. That is for a standard 9x5 business support contract; if you want 24x7 hand-holding for your RHEL 6, then you have to shell out $4,300 per socket pair per year. But if IBM says it will cover the cost of a licence and it is worth more money than it thinks it is, just take the support and run.
And in another no-good-deed-goes-unpunished move, IBM had to revamp another Linux-related deal on Power Systems because customers are more clever than IBM thinks sometimes.
Back in August, IBM offered a deal on older Power 570 and 595 machines and on newer Power 770 and 780 machines whereby if you bought a RHEL 4 or 5 licence or a Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 or 11 licence for support, IBM would toss in activation fees for up to eight processor cores and up to 32 GB of main memory.
Because these CPU and memory activation features can be quite expensive, this was a very generous offer. And it looks like some customers bought RHEL and SLES support contracts just to get cheap iron. Because, in announcement letter 310-277, IBM added this qualification: "No other IBM Operating System may be ordered for the no-charge processor activations at any time in the 12-month period following the date of activation."
You know the Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rules. ®
That is a rather one-sided view
You are basically stating that there is no workload but the cloud load and making a secondary implication that it is number of machines which matter, not task switching within a machine.
I beg to differ.
First of all not all tasks can be parallelised. There are still tasks which need good single thread performance and reliability to complete the task in reasonable amount of time. While x86 has definitely grown up from its humble beginnings there is still enough work for big iron even today.
Second, it is true that we live in a world where a lot of IT admins have grown so incompetent that they cannot be bothered to know particular package dependencies and find it easier to create a VM per app. To add insult to injury they proudly demonstrate the particular memory and resource wastage indoctrination like VMWare, Xen, whatever on the first line of their CV. However even in such a world there are many cases when a machine is shared by multiple apps. In fact, a lot of "apps" internally are multi-process and multi-threaded so your task-switching performance matters quite a lot for your overall system performance.
x86 task switching performance compared to PPC (or even Sparc) task switching performance sucks bricks sidewise through a thin straw. I have a 1.4GHz early Mac PPC G4 which shows lower task switching latency than most Core2 CPUs (at least the ones with a FSB). I would not even try to compare x86 to new PPC hardware with this regard.
So if your 132 machines are doing something that is highly event driven you may find that x86 is actually providing considerably worse value for the money than you think.
As an ex-IBMer
>IBM takes their AS/400 customers VERY seriously. Or at least they did when I worked briefly as an AS/400 programmer back in the late '90's.
Not any more! The first step is a phone call to a help line in india, next you may get a visit from a outsourced contractor that may be able to fix your box. And don't talk to me about crap mobos. Odds are the ibm contractor will turn up with a replacement part that is not correct for your hardware. Even when you quote the full model number and part number the stocked items will share the same model and part number but be physically different.
I've had an experience where we had a faulty mobo and requested a replacement model number part number the works! Replacement arrived and it match the failed unit numbers but was physically different. It wasn't able to take the CPUs from the failed unit and a couple of the plugs were different.
All the dudes from ibm who knew their stuff were fired years ago and cheap washouts employed. IBM is driven by managers who only look at costs and not service. Look at what they did to Air New Zealand about a year ago. They had the whole booking system offline for a couple of days at least.
IBM will says anything to get that sale
I buy a lot of Power kit and run AIX on it, linux does not get a look in, AIX and Power go together like SPARC/Solaris, it will always be more stable running the OS it was designed for rather than Linux. Most commentards here have no experience of running Red Hat on P-Series, I don't either, but we do run some Red Hat ("Z-Linux") on the Z-Series mainframes, and it is the most godawful, bug ridden unstable platform in our estate, makes windoze look stable! The constraints with using it on the mainframe are ridiculous, and the resource management/virtualization is terrible, one image can easily go and gobble up all cpu time and starve all other images, we see it ALL the time. IBM also had the nerve to say "Well linux on Z-Series is not very mature, so there will be issues", so why bloody sell it to us then? It's been available for 10 years, is that not mature enough?
Bottom line - IBM will pitch all kinds of bollocks to get a sale, Linux on Z-Series is unfit for purpose, I would bet it won't be any different on P-Series either. If anyone has any expereience of Red Hat on P-Series let me know....I don't think there is many of you out there and for good reason....
And with the nehalem bad boys from intel, why would you want to run linux on Power?? The extra oomph you get from Power is minimal now that x86 has come of age in the high end. The 20-30% increase in processing power you get from POWER does not make up for the 400% extra cost anyway, you might as well just throw hundreds of thousands down the drain...