A Moving Linux Experience – Migrating to IBM Power

Increasingly, clients are looking at Linux to gain more flexibility and reduce cost. Compelling arguments have been made for choosing Linux as well as choosing to run it on IBM Power Systems™ architecture. With the introduction of its eight generation of the POWER™ processor, Power Systems servers now seamlessly integrate into any infrastructure running Linux. The combo also offers productivity gains and reduced operating cost.

Migrating from Linux On x86 to Power Systems architecture may leave some feeling apprehensive, but Peter Dens, owner of Kangaroot Linux Solutions in Belgium, says there’s nothing to fear If you follow some simple best practices.


Facts and Fiction

Before deciding if and how to switch to Power Systems technology, it’s important clear up some of the misconceptions· first, that the platform is too expensive, and second, that it requires highly specialized hardware or training.

“The Linux On Power” servers have a price point that can be compared to an Intel* box, and anyone who’s used to working on Linux can run this machine as well,” Dens says. “Once it’s up and running, it’s Linux, Period”.

With the recent release of POWERS’ microprocessors, PowerKVM and PowerVM™ server virtualization technology.

Power Systems servers require even fewer physical boxes than before, while enabling Clients to scale up in an efficient way. Dens says this capacity-on-demand model provides yet another benefit-namely, more bang for the buck with less complexity.

Moreover, IBM used to require a rewrite or recompilation of the software code customers wanted to run on top of Power technology. “But in POWER8, IBM introduced support for little endian modes, which brings the environment really close to Intel*, he explains. As a  result according to IBM, 95 percent of Linux on x86 applications written in C/C++ port to Linux on Power with no source code changes and just as simple recompile and test.

Additionally, IBM reports that 100 percent of hardware-agnostic Linux on x86 applications written in scripting (e.g., Java*) or interpretive languages (e.g., PHP, Python, Perl, Ruby, etc.) will run as is with no changes.

Along with all of these benefits, the innovation happening within IBM Power Systems technology is what compels any businesses to finally make the switch, Because so much of the information is open and available, Dens says it’s easy for clients to experiment without the usual legal and IP-related issues. The opening of Power Systems technology along with IBM’s breakthrough technology of the POWER8 Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (CAPI) only sweetens the future of the technology and its users. “CAPI functionality basically enables a flash storage array to be seen as in-memory storage,” Dens explains. “And through the OpenPOWER Foundation in particular, you see some cool solutions being built by members.”

Success Stories

When planning your migration strategy, perhaps the best practice of all is learning from other companies. And there are many cases to learn from, based on a study by IDC (ibm.co/1wyfkaq). The study showed that business clients saw a significantly high ROI when running Linux workloads on IBM servers. More specifically, clients involved in the study reported a total annual value of $30,000 per 100 users as one of the benefits of  migrating to Power Systems and IBM z Systems’ servers. The main contributors to the savings included an IT staff productivity increase (14 percent); user productivity increase (25.4 percent);  and IT infrastructure cost reduction (60.6 percent). Dens took note of this potential ROI about two years ago, when he realized that Power technology was becoming the ideal solution for customers who needed to scale up. At the time, his company did some benchmarking with EnterpriseDB on Power. “We got 30 percent more work done with a machine that costs the same as an Intel server from HP or Dell,” he says. “In other words, we needed four Intel servers to do the same task as three Power servers.” No two migrations are the same, so many unique factors must be considered before migrating to Linux on Power. It’s a big move, but in the end, the migration can do big things for your business not to mention your bottom line.

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IBM offers a technical whitepaper, “Migrating Linux applications from x86 to IBM Power Systems: A discussion of best practices,” to help with your migration.

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