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IBM Power System longevity tied to Watson, SoftLayer and big data

IBM Power servers may have a new lease on life now that Watson platforms, SoftLayer cloud and big data are tied to the systems.

LAS VEGAS -- To add some processing muscle to its cloud and big data initiatives, IBM is tightly weaving its Power System servers into its SoftLayer cloud infrastructure and other emerging technologies.

In another move to strengthen its cloud offerings, the company launched Wave for z/VM here at the IBM Pulse 2014 conference. Wave for z/VM gives insight into an IT shop's virtualized infrastructure through simplified monitoring and more unified management capabilities and, what company officials called, intelligent visualization.

Some observers believe the combination of IBM Power and SoftLayer is a good fit for small and medium-sized IT shops but may not be enough fire power for enterprises.

"IBM's Power announcements are very good for a small set of customers with big IT problems who do not have cloud computing or open source skills," said Larry Carvalho, a consultant with Robust Cloud in Mason, Ohio. "Progressive customers rely on cloud resources to deliver solutions in a very short amount of time for their business."

It seems IBM is moving in the right direction. They are finally defining a clear message for the cloud.
Larry Carvalho

Carvalho added that Softlayer is a "good public play" by IBM but it lacks maturity in capabilities. "It also overlaps a lot," with other IBM offerings, he added.

Some users were more upbeat and believe IBM's cloud story is improving.

"I’m interested in it. We’re doing some stuff now with JBoss, so [Power Systems] is something we’ll look at closely," said Yossi Ronnen, director of research and development  at VFA Canada Corp. in Ontario Canada. "It seems IBM is moving in the right direction. They are finally defining a clear message for the cloud."

SoftLayer, Watson on Power systems

IBM believes Power servers can change the game for customers trying to build out modern cloud environments that handle big data.

"I think we can take things to another level when it comes to delivering services," said Lance Crosby, CEO of IBM SoftLayer.

Next quarter, SoftLayer’s first service to be built on Power Systems will be IBM Watson technologies.  Later this year, IBM will deliver several other services that will help optimize data and analytics performance.

The first Watson platforms include the Watson Discovery Advisor, Watson Engagement Advisor and the Watson Development Cloud. The latter is a platform as a service offering that contains tools, SDKs and APIs that make it possible for corporate and third party developers to develop and deliver cognitive applications.

More news on IBM

IBM this week also launched a beta of BlueMix Platform as a Service for developers andacquired a Database as a Service company called Cloudant.

"If there is one thing we know from talking to customers, getting the right infrastructure in place in the era of cloud computing is essential," said Tom Rosamilia, senior vice president of IBM Systems and Technology Group during his keynote here. "We think Power [Systems] are built from the ground up for handling big data and other compute intensive tasks in the cloud."

Software as a Service offerings that will be optimized for Power Systems include IBM's DB2 BLU and IBM Cognos analytics solutions, as well as an infrastructure as a service offering where bare metal Power Systems are offered to users as an on-demand infrastructure platform, Rosimilia said.

IBM bolsters cloud management

Additionally, IBM introduced its Platform Computing Cloud Service intended to simplify management and a better user experience for hybrid cloud deployments. The new service essentially is a cluster in the cloud that has built-in workload management and SoftLayer infrastructure.

The major benefit, according to company officials, is it permits IT shops to more quickly extend resources to on-premises non-shared infrastructure from the SoftLayer cloud during peak demand periods.

Further bolstering the IBM cloud portfolio, IBM Wave for z/VM will provide insight into an organization's virtualized infrastructure with intelligent visualization, simplified monitoring and unified management.

The new virtual tool can be used to manage IBM z/VM and Linux virtual servers, which can make deploying private clouds easier, according to company officials. It is capable of carrying out policy-based virtual server provisioning and scaling, as well as reducing the time to do mundane administrative tasks.

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Is the combination of IBM Power and SoftLayer a good fit for your enterprise?