Thursday Oct 23, 2014

Game Changing Innovation with Power8?

On Monday, October 12, IBM announced their first Power8-based enterprise class systems and yet still did not deliver the full realization of its 12-core Power8 processor, previewed by IBM in August 2013. Potential customers should also really consider IBM's lack of deep-level optimization, as compared to Oracle and SPARC.

By opening Power to partner co-development, IBM has lost much of its ability to retain control of deep-level optimizations. Consider that IBM agreed to pay Globalfoundries Inc. $1.5 billion to take an unprofitable chip-manufacturing unit off its hands. It now makes much more sense as to why IBM is investing in partner add-on capabilities through CAPI (Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface), such as chips from NVIDIA, instead of investing in its own software in silicon enhancements like Oracle. And while Oracle was busy acquiring Sun, Pillar, Xsigo and more, IBM was divesting its networking, hard disk, x86 server business and most recently their chip manufacturing unit. 


From a product feature standpoint, consider that CAPI lacks the true software in silicon (as Oracle is doing with SPARC/Solaris) approach and co-engineered Hardware + Software solutions (such as Oracle ECI Solution for SPARC), from a workload optimization and total business solution standpoint. Customers increasingly state that they want and need optimized solutions for their data centers to reduce complexity and simplify data center management, as well as resource utilization. They need this to drive their time to value; Oracle delivers. With CAPI, who is going to test, support, and optimize for key customer workload environments – IBM? NVIDIA?

Why Invest with Oracle?  

  • Oracle has proven massive investments in its hardware and software portfolios
  • Oracle Servers, OS, and Storage's publicly committed forward-looking roadmap
  • Oracle's full stack, including industry-leading software solutions, enabling deep integration with software in silicon that customers can leverage
  • Oracle enables your business transformation

What do you think? Are these game changing innovations from IBM?

Sunday Sep 07, 2014

Two Ways IBM Has Over-promised and Under-delivered with POWER8 to Date

IBM launched its first POWER8 systems in April 2014. So now that the dust has settled and the first systems have started shipping, let’s take stock of what IBM actually delivered with POWER8.

POWER8 Is More Than a Year Late
IBM has shown on previous roadmaps that it has a 3-year release cycle for new POWER generations. Following that cadence, IBM clearly missed its POWER8 release by more than a year, given that POWER7 systems started shipping the Spring of 2010 and the first POWER8 systems started shipping June 2014. 

Where Is AIX8?
We give IBM marketing credit for trying to re-spin a patched AIX7.1 (TL3 released November 2013) as their next generation OS, but the fact of the matter is that all IBM has added to the latest patch is basic enablement for the new hardware and rejigger their feature packaging a bit (e.g., more is now included in the higher cost enterprise edition of the OS).  

Further, there are few if any incremental functional improvements and no major new features planned even for its next impending patch release (TL4), which according to IBM’s AIX release history is still not yet available as of July 2014. However, the really critical point for anyone considering POWER8 is that AIX8 isn’t even on IBM’s public roadmap yet. Where is AIX8 and what exactly will IBM deliver?


FACT: AIX 7 TL3 last November just released “WPAR alt-disk install and rollback”. Solaris has provided similar technology, called Live Upgrade, since Solaris 10 was released in 2005.

FACT: Apparently per IBM’s roadmaps, AIX does not yet support SR-IOV, as it is shown as a future still, while Solaris has supported SR-IOV since 2010.

FACT: Consider all of the advantages Oracle just released in Solaris 11.2. Click here to see what’s new in 11.2. Just to give some examples…

  • Centralized cloud management with Oracle's OpenStack distribution. Integrated at the core of Oracle Solaris 11.2, deploy a private cloud instance in minutes instead of weeks.
  • Secure and agile application provisioning in the cloud with Unified Archives, a new archive format that allows total portability between bare metal and virtualized systems. Instant cloning in the cloud when you need it, to scale out or for reliable disaster recovery in emergencies.
  • No compromise virtualization with Oracle Solaris Zones enhanced. Oracle Solaris 11.2 brings an even greater level of flexibility with independent and isolated Kernel Zones.
  • Maintain SLAs with application driven Software Defined Networking, extending the network virtualization capabilities of Oracle Solaris. Elastic Virtual Switching ensures dynamic networks across your cloud environment with unprecedented agility.
  • Lower the effort of meeting compliance with an integrated and automated checking and report generation tool, reducing the time needed for compliance review by as much as 10x.

Friday May 02, 2014

SPARC and Solaris Leadership in the Cloud

Oracle’s SPARC systems and Solaris OS are co-engineered to provide efficient virtualization technology. SPARC virtualization is “Built into Firmware” which reduces costs and improves performance.

Oracle has proved its virtualization performance advantages through rigorous public testing. SPEC1, the performance standards group, defined the SPECvirt_sc2010 benchmark to uniformly measure the end-to-end performance of all system components that make up a virtualized environment. The SPECvirt_sc2012 benchmark is a good indicator of virtualization performance, which is critical for any cloud environment.

Virtualization Performance


Figure 1. SPARC T5-2 is 2.3x faster in the SPECvirt_sc2010 benchmark versus the best VMware result on an HP BL620c G7 two-processor x86-based blade server.

Oracle’s SPARC T5-2 server running Oracle Solaris 11 delivered a two-socket world-record SPECvirt_sc2010 result of 4270 @ 264 VMs. This result demonstrates the superiority of Oracle’s SPARC T5 processors with Oracle Solaris virtualization and demonstrates the leadership SPARC servers provide in large-scale environments.

SPARC Customer Successes

Large Communications Provider utilizing the Oracle Optimized Solution for Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, running on SPARC T5 Servers, realized 2.5x faster virtual server deployment versus bare metal for faster time-to-user and administrative productivity.

Regional Water Company realized 7x better cost/performance for virtualized Java, and 2x faster data warehouse performance and order-entry transactions than IBM running Oracle Solaris, Database, Applications and Middleware on SPARC T5 servers with Oracle VM for SPARC versus competitive systems.

Oil and Gas Company running Oracle Database, PeopleSoft, and SAP on Oracle SPARC T5 servers achieved 3x faster provisioning of new services and OPEX savings of $2.8M using Oracle VM for SPARC.

Oracle SPARC T5-2 Server


Utilizing modular design architecture and powered by either one or two SPARC T5 processors—Oracle’s most powerful SPARC processors ever—the SPARC T5-2 server delivers exceptional single- and multi-thread performance. With 16 cores and 16 memory slots per SPARC T5 processor, the SPARC T5-2 server provides extreme compute density, with up to 32 cores and 1 TB of system memory within a 3U enclosure. Oracle has also proven that the SPARC T5-2 is the fastest server for Java applications, which is critical in many cloud deployments. The SPARC T5-2 is 1.8x faster than the best Intel 2-chip x86 E5 v2 Ivy-Bridge-based Cisco UCS C240 M3 server.2

Conclusion
The SPARC T5 server running Oracle Solaris 11 utilizes embedded virtualization products, such as the Oracle VM Server for SPARC and Oracle Solaris Zones, which provide a low overhead, flexible, scalable and manageable virtualization environment with no extra cost for customers that have Oracle premier support.

For more information about SPARC and Solaris performance, please visit http://www.oracle.com/benchmarks.

Benchmark Disclosures
1) SPEC and the benchmark names SPECvirt_sc are registered trademarks of the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC). Results from http://www.spec.org as of 3/6/2014. Solaris SPARC T5-2, SPECvirt_sc2010 4270 @ 264 VMs; VMware ESXi4.1 HP Proliant BL620c G7, SPECvirt_sc2010 1878 @ 120 VMs.

2) SPARC T5-2 114,492 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM max-jOPS, 43,963 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM critical-jOPS; Cisco UCS C240 M3 63,079 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM max-jOPS, 23,797 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM critical-jOPS.


This blog post is provided for information purposes only, and the contents hereof are subject to change without notice. This post is not warranted to be error-free, nor subject to any other warranties or conditions, whether expressed orally or implied in law, including implied warranties and conditions of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. We specifically disclaim any liability with respect to this document, and no contractual obligations are formed either directly or indirectly by this post. This post may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, for any purpose, without our prior written permission.

Oracle and Java are registered trademarks of Oracle and/or its affiliates. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Intel and Intel Xeon are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation. All SPARC trademarks are used under license and are trademarks or registered trademarks of SPARC International, Inc. AMD, Opteron, the AMD logo, and the AMD Opteron logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Advanced Micro Devices. UNIX is a registered trademark of The Open Group.

Friday Apr 25, 2014

Is IBM POWER8 a Smart(er) Choice?


On Wednesday, April 23, IBM announced new POWER8 systems at the OpenPower Forum. But IBM customers might be disappointed, as it appears that IBM is shifting its strategic R&D focus to Linux on POWER. IBM recently stated that they will “significantly reposition POWER8” and that they are trying to displace x86 with POWER8 in hyperscale/scale-out data center deployments. IBM seems to be re-aligning POWER8 to cover lost ground since it decided to de-invest in x86 entirely, while Oracle has instead adopted the strategy of adding/building value for enterprise environments and adding functionality to enhance customer experience (our software in silicon with SPARC processors, Oracle Solaris enhancements and Engineered Systems as examples). Ultimately IBM's strategy may lower the starting price, but IBM may not be able to sustain the model nor add significant net-new value longer term with POWER or AIX.

This represents a major shift in strategy and potentially a reduced investment in POWER AIX for the enterprise.

IBM’s hardware business is in a state of major transition. Is hardware even strategic to IBM? 

"They used to be a leader. Now they sell one business after the next. That is not a way to grow," said Fred Hickey, editor of The High-Tech Strategist newsletter who has followed IBM for 30 years. There is clear evidence that IBM is reducing investment in  hardware:

  • IBM sold their PC and Workstation business to Lenovo in 2005
  • IBM just closed their deal to sell off its x86 server business to Lenovo
  • IBM has retained Goldman Sachs to find a buyer for their chip fabrication facilities
  • IBM delivered only two POWER updates in the last four years
  • IBM doesn’t have a public POWER roadmap beyond POWER8 and AIX8

On the other hand, Oracle is doubling down on integrated hardware and software investments to support a long-term innovation roadmap and increased customer value:

  • Oracle increased investment in SPARC and Oracle Solaris delivering five generations of SPARC processors in four years, and doubling performance with each release
  • Oracle plans to release Solaris 11.2 next week, the world’s first cloud operating system coupled with the benefits of advanced virtualization, software-defined networking, and OpenStack integration
  • The SPARC roadmap now shows three future generations of SPARC processors through 2019
  • Oracle continues to invest heavily in a broad portfolio of Engineered Systems to simplify IT

Lots of Unanswered Questions
IBM leaves a lot of unanswered questions on what is going to happen next and whether its new strategy will add any real value:

  • IBM’s POWER strategy is complex and unclear with its new focus in the entry/scale-out market vs. the enterprise. What do current AIX/POWER customers do?
  • Can IBM and the OpenPOWER consortium deliver value with a complex multi-year effort to build a new ecosystem around design, manufacturing and software for the x86/scale out segment?
  • IBM is offering customers new hardware for Linux. What are the bottom line costs and benefits for migrating Linux applications running on x86 to POWER8? What is the value for Linux on POWER over x86? 
  • How does IBM plan on implementing future hardware/software optimization, i.e., PureSystems and PureFLEX, while at the same time pursuing a purely OpenStack model for POWER8? For that matter, what is IBM’s current strategy for PureSystems, given that it did not announce POWER8 Flex nodes and did not mention PureSystems at its recent earnings?

Given this radical new strategy and all the surrounding uncertainty and potential risk, do customers really want to continue to invest in POWER8 and AIX?

Stay tuned for more analysis, as IBM reveals more details about POWER8.


The following is intended to outline our general product direction. It is intended for information purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract. It is not a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described for Oracle’s products remains at the sole discretion of Oracle.

Thursday Feb 27, 2014

Migrate from AIX to Oracle Solaris in 4 Easy Steps

Do you fear migration downtime for your always-on applications and increase in already long IT projects backlog? Overdue for an upgrade on your AIX/Power systems running Oracle technology and/or Oracle applications?

Simplify the Migration of Oracle Database and Oracle Applications from AIX to Oracle Solaris is a new white paper that explains in detail how to move from AIX to Oracle Solaris. It also has published results of Oracle Database migrations from AIX to Solaris, including the effort, duration, and benefits from actual systems migrations. Hear first-hand from customers who have simplified operations and benefited from UNIX advantages, by moving off IBM AIX systems onto Oracle’s cutting edge Oracle Solaris-powered platforms.

In four simple steps, you can migrate from AIX to Oracle Solaris and take advantage of Oracle’s “Hardware and Software Engineered to Work Together” to reduce cost, risk and improve the productivity of your application and business systems.

To learn more on AIX to Solaris Migration, visit oracle.com/aixtosolaris.

Saturday Feb 01, 2014

SPARC T5-2 Server Shatters Another World Record and Gets Single-Processor Configuration

Since their introduction last year, Oracle's T5 servers have topped performance metrics across enterprise workloads. The SPARC T5 server has just shattered another world record (see the latest SPECjEnterprise2010 2-socket benchmark result). In that test, the SPARC T5-2 server:

  • Showed the best performance per socket for a single system in the application tier (1)
  • Demonstrated 1.5 times higher performance compared to Oracle’s 2-socket Sun Server X4-2 systems, running Intel's E5-2600 v2 series processor (Ivy Bridge) (1)
  • Delivered 29% better performance (1) and 20% better price performance compared to a two-socket IBM PowerLinux POWER7+ processor-based server (2)

Another piece of good news is that Oracle is announcing that the SPARC T5-2 server is now offered in a single-processor configuration, making it easier to adopt Oracle's latest technology - see details here. Customers will now have options for deploying T5-based servers starting with 16 and going up to 128 cores. Complementing this server line-up, the SPARC T4-1 server provides an entry-level configuration with 8 cores, while the SPARC M6-32 system provides massive scalability up to 384 cores.




Footnote:

 (1) Results from www.spec.org as of 1/22/2014. SPARC T5-2, 17,033.54 SPECjEnterprise2010 EjOPS; IBM PowerLinux 7R2, 13,161.07 SPECjEnterprise2010 EjOPS; Sun Server X4-2, 11,259.88 SPECjEnterprise2010 EjOPS. The SPARC T5-2 server result represents the best performance per socket for a single system in the application tier of 8,516.77 SPECjEnterprise2010 EjOPS per socket. SPEC and the benchmark name SPECjEnterprise are registered trademarks of the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation.

(2) SPARC T5-2 configuration: Java EE server, 1 SPARC T5-2 server, 2 chips, 3.6 GHz SPARC T5, Oracle WebLogic 12c (12.1.2); Database server, 1 SPARC T5-2 server, 2 chips, 3.6 GHz SPARC T5, Oracle Database 12c (12.1.0.1). The SPARC T5-2 configuration cost is the total application and database server hardware plus software. List price is $613,052 from http://www.oracle.com as of 1/22/2014. IBM PowerLinux 7R2 configuration: Java EE server, 1 IBM PowerLinux 7R2, 2 chips, 4.2 GHz Power 7+, WebSphere Application Server V8.5; Database server: 1 IBM PowerLinux 7R2, 2 chips, 4.2 GHz Power 7+, IBM DB2 10.1 FP2. The IBM PowerLinux 7R2 configuration total hardware plus software list price is $588,970 based on public pricing from http://www.ibm.com as of 1/22/2014. Pricing does not include database storage hardware for IBM or Oracle.

Oracle, Solaris, and Java are registered trademarks of Oracle Corporation and/or its affiliates.


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